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Waterford resident publishes election study results

A Waterford resident studying political science in Massachusetts has published the results of a two-year study on third-party voting.

Joshua Steele Kelly, currently a senior at Wheaton College, is the cochair of the Waterford Green Party and an alternate member of both the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Conservation Commission. He said he wanted to investigate what makes people vote for Democratic or Republican candidates over third-party candidates.

As part of two classes he took at Wheaton, Kelly conducted exit polls in Waterford in the 2015 town election and the 2016 presidential election to investigate voting trends in town and how demographic differences influence voters. With the help of family, friends and high school volunteers, he found that different populations vote in different elections. For example, white voters were more likely than minority voters to vote for a third-party candidate in the presidential election, whereas master’s degree holders were the most likely to vote third-party in the local election.

Kelly also conducted a thought experiment involving four fake candidates, in which participants had to rank the candidates based on their party platforms. With one version that lined up parties and party platforms correctly and another version that scrambled the platforms, he found that there is a general bias toward voting for Democratic or Republican candidates, but many people are supportive of the platforms of the minor parties.

He said he hopes Waterford residents will use the study to tailor their approach to politics. The full study is available on the Waterford Green Party website.

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