The outcome of a lottery vote in North Carolina will likely depend on whether voters are persuaded that lottery proceeds would directly benefit schools and on the intensity of organized religious opposition, says John Dinan, an assistant professor of political science at Wake Forest University who has tracked lottery legislation across the country.
If North Carolinians are given a chance this fall to vote on whether to adopt a lottery, they will join voters in a number of other states that have held similar votes in the last decade, Dinan says. As recently as 1964, not a single state operated a lottery. Since then, lotteries have been adopted in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
“When lotteries have been put to a popular vote, the people have usually approved them,” says Dinan, who is an expert on voting behavior. Voters usually support the lottery because they want to increase education funding, he says. But, in some places—like Alabama three years ago—voters have rejected lottery referendums. Alabama voters defeated the legislation primarily because of opposition organized by religious groups and because of public distrust of government due to scandals involving the governor and cabinet members.
Dinan is available for comment on lottery-related stories. To arrange an interview, contact Cheryl V. Walker in the News Service at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-758-6073.
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