Public officials and stakeholders who want to advance watershed protection may want to consider how ballot referendum design can serve as a nudge in voting behaviors. We extend the research literature on voter preferences by using behavioral economics theory to provide new insights into voter behaviors towards watershed conservation referendums. We drew upon observations from 76 separate watershed protection referendums, conducted in the eastern U.S. from 1991 to 2013, and evaluated the wording of the ballot statement to determine their potential influence on voter support and the psychology of voting. Data were fitted to weighted least squares regression models to allow for broader inferences about voting behaviors. We found shorter ballot referendums with broad or vague descriptions of expected benefits and fewer descriptions of funding mechanisms likely increased the perceived odds of a favorable outcome and subsequently increased likelihood of a yes vote.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law