Election Fails

There are two possible results of an election, winning and losing. Keep in mind; many wonderful projects have ended with an unsuccessful election. Sometimes even when you do everything right, other issues cause you to lose. Perhaps there was an unpopular item on the ballot that influenced the voter's decision; maybe your supporters didn't vote. The educational effort involved in districting may require a couple of unsuccessful elections before you succeed. Because failure is a possibility, take time to decide how to handle a lost election.

Realize that you and others in the districting effort will feel anger, discouragement, and disappointment. This will not be a good time to make decisions. This is why you need to make contingency plans.

Finding Alternatives

The election failure leaves the issues that originally created an interest in districting. You have three options:

  • to try again
  • to try another alternative
  • to let the issue rest for a time.

Carry out the following tasks to determine what is the best of these three alternatives:

  • Analyze the election campaign and results
  • Re-examine districting alternatives based on the analysis
  • Proceed with an alternative

Analyze the Election Campaign and Results

Analyzing the election campaign and results is an important task. Analyzing a campaign will help you decide what actions you should take after a failed election. Don't assess blame. Instead use the knowledge that you have to do things differently the next time around. Look at the precinct-by-precinct report of the election results. Are there areas where the vote was strong? Areas where it was weak? Were there any surprises? Were there areas where you expected strong support, but didn't see that materialize? Was there strong opposition in some parts of the proposed district? Try to understand the reasons behind the answers you receive.

As a group talk about the election. Here are some general questions you can ask yourself:

  • Were there turning points in the election process - events that had a negative effect on the outcome? Could those events have been avoided and how?
  • If the election was very close, what effect might another election have? Can you change the situation enough to make a difference in the outcome? Would another election soon after this election cause a backlash among voters?

Re-examine Alternatives

Re-examine all the alternatives in light of the election results.

  • If the election was extremely close and it appears that corrective measures could change the results, you may want to try again.
  • If the districting measure was strongly opposed in one geographic area, but supported in others, redraw the district lines. This may create a district where there is support.
  • If the election results were overwhelmingly opposed to the district, you may want to wait.


Proceed with a new course of action, once you have analyzed the campaign and results. Disband the group, if you choose to wait until later.

If you want to try another election, return to the drawing board. Make the necessary changes in the dates and procedures to be used. Think about how to market the proposal and make it acceptable to the electorate. Pay attention to the arguments opponents made against the district and take corrective action.

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