In keeping with the question from the previous election- Why was this election so (relatively) unpopular?

I thought the election process was certainly better- but the overall votes have dropped even further despite more visits (and shiny badges).

                 Previous    Current    Increase
Voters eligible  72,908      99,626     36.6%
Visited          17,866      19,479      9.0%
Voted            5,004       4,426     -11.6%

I still maintain that there were plenty of great candidates (a win-win situation perhaps) and that ultimately the people who care voted...

but something still didn't click with potential voters?

  • 14
    More users have died since the last election
    – random
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 2:24
  • @random you mean most users who voted last time? (as in, had they not died, it might be around 8000ish votes?) Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 2:25
  • Weird, that doesn't sound right, from what I heard the Primaries votes were way higher than previous elections. Did we get more primary voters than election voters?
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 3:08
  • @BenBrocka Probably yes, check my answer, the nomination and primary was all the rage this time...
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 3:19
  • Perhaps more interesting: if you check the last 3 elections here stackoverflow.com/election it appears that the number of voters is almost always right around 5000 users regardless of the other stats....
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 3:20
  • If you're not running the asylum, you're an inmate. 'nuff said.
    – CodeGnome
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 4:38
  • SO is different, but are there comparable statistics from other elections to see if there's a general trend?
    – Mark Hurd
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 3:39

4 Answers 4


My theory is that we had an excellent set of candidates this time, thus the election stopped being interesting after the primary. When 9 or even 10 out of 10 election candidates are perfectly suitable for the role, why vote? I did, but I'll admit I had absolutely no interest in who'd win, all the excitement for me was the nomination and the primary.

There were a couple of changes this election, that may or may have not affected participation:

  1. The system banner was replaced by the community bulletin.

    It was argued that people failed to see the community bulletin, and the system banner would be preferable for such an important event. I'm with Toomai on this one.

  2. Voting badges were introduced.

    From all the wrong reasons to vote, to get a badge is the worst :/

    The reasoning behind Caucus and Constituent was that they'd provide an extra incentive for people to vote, but they didn't seem to fulfil that promise. We'll probably won't get a clear idea of the badges' value until the next election though, as they were introduced mid election and awarded retroactively for past elections and that might have made them less interesting this time. I got a bunch of them for past elections all around Stack Exchange, getting yet another couple for this election was a bit meh.

  • My opinion, there were 2 candidates who said thanks to SO users. I voted both of them.
    – user188661
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 3:09
  • 15
    @haibison All the candidates were SO users at the time, so saying thanks to SO users was a bit redundant. Word of advice for future elections: concentrate on whether the candidates can actually cope with the role's responsibilities, and not on inane pleasantries. That said, both candidates that thanked the SO users would make excellent moderators.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 3:23
  • 4
    Solution: get more controversial candidates on board. Long-time trolls, sock puppet operators, etc. Hell, pay them to run along until the primaries!
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 13:25
  • @Pekka It seems Stack Exchange took your suggestion seriously.
    – yannis
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 10:20

I'll make a huge assumption that a large number of SO users are like me: they come to SO to find good answers to questions they need answers to right now; they come to SO to maybe find a question or two that they may be able to answer, or vote up, or vote up good answers to those questions.

The moderators, to me, are the wizards behind the curtain, and sometimes I don't want to know how the sausage is made. I'm just happy that things work, thanks to all the work of those moderators behind the scenes.

By the way, I voted in the primary and in the election.

  • 2
    sometimes I don't want to know how the sausage is made Unicorns.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 2:29
  • There's sausage? Where!? I want some!
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 2:34
  • 2
    The sausage is People. How do you think we enforce the question ban?
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 3:09

One possible reason is that the lack of in-your-face advertising has tossed out all the people who tangentally cared and left us with only those who actually care. That said however, have a look at the percentages instead of the scalars:

                         Previous   Current    Increase
    Eligibles visited    24.5%      19.6%     -4.9%
    Visitors voted       28.0%      22.7%     -5.3%
    Eligibles voted      6.87%      4.44%     -2.43%

Compared to the scalars, these differences don't look that bad.

  • 1
    Well you need to make that last column a percent change, so it should be from top to bottom -20%, -18.9%, and -35.9% which is still pretty bad.
    – JNK
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 18:58

At first I thought the steadily decreasing number of candidates was a slam-dunk explanation. Looking at the numbers, I'm not so sure anymore:

Election  Visitors  Seen it  Candidates Voters
   #1       ~25000    14130     55      4970
   #2        45177    17866     28      4994
   #3        60208    19479     18      4426

Roughly: steady growth in the number of users visiting the site, but with little active participation from new users. A core group of a fat four thousand users. That maybe shrunk by 10%

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