Free fried chicken drove some Utahns to polls

A Utah State University researcher found that food is a greater motivator than democracy when it comes to getting people to vote.

As reported by The Atlantic, Damon M. Cann went to doorsteps urging people to go vote, for all the reasons that lovers of democracy should be convinced to do so. But some of the group also were offered two buckets of KFC. Four percent of the people caught the vision from his words alone; but participation jumped to 13 percent when the Colonel Sanders blowout was offered.

I can picture how this might have gone.

Home No. 1:

“Honey, this guy came to the door saying we’d better go vote for the good of the country. Should we go?”

“Norbert, you know my goiter’s acting up. Plus it’s raining, and they’re all crooks anyway.”

Home No. 2:

“Hey, honey, if we go vote today, this guy says he’ll give us two buckets of KFC. Woo-hoo!”

“How cool is that? Get your keys, Norb.”

Political scientists obviously are having their own feast with this clever experiment. Sadly, there likely wouldn’t be much need for extensive voter participation research if turnout wasn’t so abysmal in most elections.

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5 Responses to Free fried chicken drove some Utahns to polls

  1. Bob Becker says:

    Back in Louisiana [which I used to think, in my uninformed younger days, was way more corrupt a state than Utah], offering to feed someone on election day in return for voting was called “vote buying” and it was illegal.

  2. Mark Shenefelt says:

    I think it may be here too (not sure), but the Atlantic story does note the distinction that Cann’s pitch was not in favor of a particular party or candidate.

    • Bob Becker says:

      The ban on freebies for voting in states that have them, even if the pitch is ostensibly non-partisan is this: any political campaign manager worth his pay can tell you right off which precincts tend to favor his candidate and which don’t. So if the Ninth Ward down in New Orleans has a 4-1 registration tilt in favor of Democratic candidates, and has voted in that proportion regularly, offering allegedly non-partisan freebies to voters in that ward to turn out is going to boost the Democratic vote overall. Similarly, if a largely white wealthy Ward out in suburban Metarie has a 4-1 Republican tilt in registration and voting, and regularly votes Republican by that margin, offering allegedly non-partisan freebies there to turn out will boost the Republican vote overall.

      So no freeies to vote are permitted. Makes sense to me.

      Then there’s the loftier more philosophical rationale: if you have to be bribed to get you sorry lazy butt to the polling place, probably the best contribution you can make to the Republic is to stay home, or go fishin’ instead.

  3. hawg says:

    let’s see, incentive to vote. I guess if I had the choice between two black panther thugs with clubs or fried chicken to help me vote, I think I’ll go with the Colonel.

  4. Didn’t Baskin Robins offer a free ice cream cone to anyone who came in with an “I voted” sticker? I seem to recall it on Facebook…

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