When voters cast ballots for state representatives last fall, millions of Americans essentially had no choice: In 42 percent of all such elections, candidates faced no major party opponents.
Political scientists say a major reason for the lack of choices is the way districts are drawn - gerrymandered, in some cases, to ensure as many comfortable seats as possible for the majority party by creating other districts overwhelmingly packed with voters for the minority party.
While the rate of uncontested races dipped slightly from 2014 to 2016, the percentage of people living in legislative districts without electoral choices has been generally rising over the past several decades.
About 4,700 state House and Assembly seats were up for election last year. Of those, 998 Democrats and 963 Republicans won without any opposition from the other major political party. In districts dominated by one party, election battles are fought mostly in the primaries; the winner from the majority party becomes a virtual shoo-in to win the general election.
-About 75 percent of the state House races in Arkansas and South Carolina lacked either a Democratic or Republican candidate. Under an Arkansas law passed this year, the names of unopposed candidates won't even have to be listed on future ballots.
Unchallenged candidates will automatically be declared the winners.
There are far fewer uncontested U.S. House races. Less than 15 percent of the 435 districts lacked a Republican or Democratic candidate last year.
But some of the same states were atop that noncompetitive list: Five of Massachusetts' nine U.S. House districts lacked Republican candidates. Three of Arkansas' four districts lacked Democratic opponents. And in Georgia, which has 14 U.S. House districts, four Republicans and one Democrat ran unopposed by the other major party.