Senate bill 8582, introduced 11/18/2015 in the New York legislature, would provide for early in-person voting in the Empire State.
I’ve talked to NY state legislators before, but not about this legislation. It does contain some useful provisions that I often recommend, including:
- A population based floor (but no ceiling) on the number of early voting locations
- Allows for early voting “vote centers” in the City of New York (not county based)
- An early voting period that includes two weekends and requires some Saturday and Sunday voting, and requires at least one early voting location in each county to stay open until 8 in the evening
Early voting locations are also subject to other location provisions, assuring that not just numbers, but accessibility will be taken into account:
POLLING PLACES FOR EARLY VOTING SHALL BE LOCATED TO ENSURE, TO THE 11 EXTENT PRACTICABLE, THAT ELIGIBLE VOTERS HAVE ADEQUATE EQUITABLE ACCESS, 12 TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION POPULATION DENSITY, TRAVEL TIME TO THE POLLING 13 PLACE, PROXIMITY TO OTHER LOCATIONS OR COMMONLY USED TRANSPORTATION 14 ROUTES AND SUCH OTHER FACTORS THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS OF THE COUNTY OR 15 THE CITY OF NEW YORK DEEMS APPROPRIATE.
Another excellent report by Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center. Even if you don’t agree with their position on some of these legal changes, they maintain some of the best resources for election laws and procedures.
An excellent new podcast as part of Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog (ELB) series features Prof. Nathan Persily addressing the question “can the Supreme Court handle social science?” Persily addresses the question in light of recent litigation over campaign finance and voter identification.
Persily is well-known in the election reform community; for the broader political science community, Persily received his PhD in Political Science from Berkeley, his JD from Stanford, and served as research director for the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. Many may be familiar with him from his recent edited volume on Cambridge Solutions to Political Polarization in America.
Any political scientist who is interested in how the Court and the legal community views our scholarship, and more generally in how social science can be made more comprehensible and impactful in the policy community, would do well to listen to this short 30 minute podcast.
A quick link to Peter Miller and my paper on public opinion and torture. not pertinent to Early Voting but this lets us get to our presentation.
The Election Assistance Commission’s Election Administration and Voting Survey has been released. This is the first in a series of posts that will highlight some patterns and anomalies in the data.
The EAVS is one of the best ways to assess whether or not a state is adhering to the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which obligates states, among other things, to provide the option to register to vote via motor vehicle agencies and other social service agencies.
To assess compliance, however, the data need to be reported. I have shown below a table that reports the state by state totals from three variables in the EAVS that should in principle have the same value:
- QA5a – “The total number of registration forms received by your jurisdiction”
- QA6_Total” – “Registration forms received, broken down by source”, the reported figure should be a sum of the individual sources, but is also labeled explicitly on the questionnaire as “QA5a”, alerting the jurisdiction that that total here should match the total listed above.
- Regtotal – My own calculated total of registration forms from all sources.
The data are reported by state below. As you can see, there are only eleven states where all three figures match as they are supposed to: AL, CO, CT, LA, ME, MI, MN, NC, NH, OR, and WY. ND is not required to report this information. These states get an “A+” for reporting.
Wisconsin simply forgot to enter the “total” for QA6_Total, but the numbers match. We’ll give them an “A”.
Idaho, New Jersey, and South Dakota reported nothing for the NVRA section at all. Not sure they can get a grade other than “F”.
I haven’t probed the other differences in order to give more nuanced grades. I’ll leave that to other experts.
It’s not often that one gets to brag about knowing an academic whose work is cited in a Supreme Court opinion. But today, our friend and colleague Peter Miller has his very own SCOTUS citation:
Further media exposure for Peter can be found on Last Best News, a site dedicated to telling the stories about the people and culture of Billings and eastern Montana. Yes, Peter is from Billings, MT.
Congratulations, Peter. We’re excited to see where else your work will prove so useful.
Hillary Clinton plans to call for an early voting period of at least 20 days in every state, the Washington Post’s Anne Gearan reports. This is not a Democrat’s first foray into the voting wars this election season, but it is Clinton’s first specific policy recommendation about election administration reform. A recent Harvard Law Review note argues that federal early voting legislation may be viable, so we do well to view her announcement today at Texas Southern University as more than just liberal hand-waving.
If Clinton wins the election and Congress passes this legislation, what might be its impact?
Sixteen states already have early voting periods that begin at least 20 days before the election. This change would likely impact these states the least.
Twenty-four states and DC have early voting periods that are shorter than 20 days. Their election codes would need to be changed and they may need to redirect resources into early voting.
Ten states have no early voting at all. A federal mandate would significantly affect these states.
Would a standard of at least 20 early voting days increase turnout?
The Clinton proposal–at least what we can glean from the pre-release for the speech–leave many details unanswered. For early voting, the devil is very much in the details.
For example, what about weekend voting, notably early voting through the final Sunday before Election Day?
Would legislation mandate a minimum number of hours per day, or across the full 20 day period?
Would there be any formula to require a minimum number of early voting locations, and how would states calculate this formula–by CVAP? geographic dispersion? Commuting patterns?
Prior research shows that these details are critical when determining how much early voting costs and whether different segments of the population use this convenience voting method.
Nonetheless, two points seem clear. First, that if this legislation passes, it would significantly change the importance of early voting across the country, since campaigns would have much greater incentives to focus on the early vote nationwide
Second and related, this would create a uniform early voting period across the United States. Greater uniformity across our hyper-federalized system is not always a good thing, but in this case, it makes it easier for voters to know when to vote and may foster cooperation between election administrators across the states
Hat tip to Rick Hasen; Derek Muller has written a really wonderful primer on the constitutional history of representation and redistricting in the United States, masquerading as a commentary on the Evenwel case.
Required reading not just for interested students and scholars, but any citizen (and should we add non-citizen? under 18? disenfranchised felon? non-registered yet eligible??) in the United States.