Voting in America Summit 2012

I am in DC at the Voting in America Summit. Here is the very active twitter feed:

[twitter_search query=”#via2012″ show=”5″ ]

Should pressure for a fast count determine how we vote?

The new clerk-recorder in Riverside County, CA, Kari Verjil, has apparently avoided the pothole that ended the career of her predecessor Barbara Dumore.

Riverside has the 10th fastest count among California counties, according to information just released by the Secretary of State’s office.

Verjil attributes the improvement to a dedicated effort by her office to encourage citizens to cast their ballots by mail.  Verjil did the smart thing by figuring out the best way to respond to the pressures placed on her by political actors.

It’s the political pressure that bothers me.  Buried down in the story is this revealing comment:

With paper ballots in widespread use after the state’s decision years ago to eliminate electronic computer voting, Verjil had said a shift to heavy mail voting was the best strategy for speeding the count.

Let’s be clear about this: the Secretary of State and other political leaders decided to move away from electronic voting machines.  Then these same actors criticized local officials for a slow count which was almost exclusively a known consequence of the move to paper ballots.

If you move to paper ballots, then you are obligated in my view to accept the consequences.  And in a voter intent state that also allows voters to drop absentee ballots at precincts on Election Day, the consequence is a slow count.

I made the  same point I made back in 2010 when Dunmore’s job was in jeopardy.

Apparently the response is going to be an even heavier emphasis on voting by mail, not because it is the best system for voters, not because it is cheaper or more efficient, but just because political actors can’t wait 12 or 14 hours for election results.

This is not a model for good policy making.

Uh oh! Now the lawyers are paying attention…

Nice commentary by Doug Chapin of the Election Academy on Rick Pildes’s Election Law guest post on early voting.

I completely agree with Rick’s comparisons of absentee by-mail, early in-person, and Election Day voting.  (In fact, I’ve long argued for those terms because they most precisely describe the mechanism by which the ballots are cast.)

I mildly dissent from Rick on one point, though.  Early in-person voting is not a “recent development in American democracy.”  It’s been around for nearly thirty years now.  More than a quarter of all ballots were cast early (early in-person and absentee combined) in 2004 and almost a third were cast early in 2008.

I’m glad to see Courts and scholars finally waking up to the quiet revolution in voting.  But there’s not doubt that the revolution has been underway for a few decades.

Josh Douglas at Reuters on “election week”

Josh pens a nice oped for Reuters. http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2012/11/06/a-vote-for-election-week/

Hawaii considering all vote by mail

Hat tip to Stateline. http://www.pewstates.org/projects/stateline/headlines/after-election-day-confusion-hawaii-gov-pushes-full-mail-in-voting-85899432298

Aggressive No-Excuse Absentee Doesn’t Solve Long Lines in Ohio

As reported previously on this blog, Ohio this year undertook one of the most aggressive no-excuse absentee efforts ever: it mailed a no-excuse absentee ballot application to every registered voter in the state.

Nonetheless, Ohioans still experience early-in person and Election Day lines of two to four hours.

The lesson is clear: no excuse absentee voting by mail by itself is not a cure for long lines at the polling place.  An overall solution to the capacity issue includes increased early in-person voting, on the days that voters want to vote early, and smoothly functioning precinct place voting for those citizens who desire to wait until Election Day.

A Better Way to Vote?

My contribution along with some really smart company:

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/11/08/does-our-voting-system-need-to-be-fixed/?ref=politics

Early vote from the polls, limited to battleground states Early vote from the polls, limited to battleground states

Here’s the link again.  A lot fewer points because a lot fewer respondents.  The Democratic advantage among respondents who say they have already voted is pretty large.

 

Parsing the Early Vote From Polling Data Parsing the Early Vote From Polling Data

If I did this right using the Ipsos/Reuters “American Mosaic” site, the graphic below shows early voter preferences over the past week. I selected on “registered voters” and “voted in 2012” for the display.

This corresponds pretty well to te trends in support reported by Nate Silver, Real Clear Politics, and others.

 

Early In Person vs. Absentee Voting in Florida, a Primer from Dan Smith

Dan Smith, my colleague at University of Florida, provides this useful guide.