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.
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.
I’m looking forward to reading the papers and hearing about new research into election administration next week. This is an open, public conference; not sure if proceedings will be on the web. Papers should start to appear next week.
A recent local election in Red Willow County, NE is “credited for high turnout,” according to the lede (and attributed to claims by local elections officials).
Officials also praise the all-mail system that allows them to “keep the voter registration system updated, given the number of ballots returned undeliverable.”
Results were as follows:
Ballots Sent: 4735
Ballots Returned: 1821
Official Turnout: 38%
Turnout after undeliverable: 45%
2007 Special Turnout 31%
On the face of it, this seems impressive. But the devil is in the details.
It’s plausible that the voting by mail system increased turnout by 50% (from 31% to 45%) but making that calculation (presuming “the vast majority” of undeliverable ballots are voters who moved out of the county) raises issues about how the voter registration system is maintained and what election officials will do with these results.
The obvious first question is: why were 713 ballots undeliverable?
Election officials are quoted as saying that “the vast majority of the returned ballots stem from voters who relocated out of the area without updating their information with the clerk’s office.”
The implication is that 15% of the voter registration rolls in this county (or the state?) consists of deadwood–individuals who are registered in two NE counties or have moved out of state or who are deceased. 15% is a pretty high number for a rural county without a lot of in- or out-migration. Do we know if these individuals have simply moved within the county (for instance)? Do we know if these individuals have active registration records in two counties in NE?
Post election, local officials in this county may consider first, what they’ll do with this information. In fully vote-by-mail states, an undeliverable ballot prompts a forwardable postcard notifying the voter that their registration record is out of date. This follow-up step is critical.
(Officials imply that they are using the results to clean the rolls, but don’t say how.)
Second, officials should run the undeliverable records through the statewide registration system to assure themselves that voters aren’t registered in two counties.