Early Voting Map updated as of Monday November 5 Early Voting Map updated as of Monday November 5

The Oregon VBM Insufficient Postage Snafu settled .. for now


More Oregon Smackdown: Third party ballot delivery problems

I am no fan of the Oregon law that allows third parties to collect and deliver ballots.  But the law is the law, and apparently some election officials and members of law enforcement don’t understand the law.

Fact is, however, this remains legal in Oregon, and the state legislature refuses to change the law because politicians want to have their campaigners collect ballots.  I don’t like it, it makes Oregon almost unique, and I’ve been trying to get the law changed.  I blogged about it two years ago

I don’t like what the canvassers did in West Linn, but it is legal.

P.S. I don’t want to defend Rep. Julie Parrish who is in hot water over some robocalls questioning voters’ registration status,  but the WWeek reference to her Facebook page is inaccurate–she correctly states that third party ballot collection is legal, just in her opinion, the canvassers must have broken the law because:

Come on now…..if the police made them take the ballot back…that should say something to you….I believe the West Linn PD over the House Democrats Spokesperson….
Personally, I suspect the police had no idea, but Parrish is factual in the FB posts.


The curse of Gerber and Green redux

This in from a local blogger.  The Gerber/Green reference is to this article about “shaming” and vote mobilization.

Early Voting Rates Nationwide Early Voting Rates Nationwide

This should answer a few reporters’ questions. Courtesy of Michael McDonald’s website. Blank states do not mean no early voting–it means there is no data or insufficient data that I felt comfortable plotting the information.

Early Voting Rates among Democrats in Florida

Courtesy of Jacob Canter, Reed junior and late night Stata learner …

The map was produced using the spmap add-on to Stata.

Democratic Early Voting in Florida

The vote by mail and insufficient postage spat in Oregon: Big Pot Money, Signature Gathering, and More!

I have been asked to weigh in by a number of my colleagues after Dan Meek alerted the widely read Election Law listserv of communications between Steve Trout, the Director of Elections in Oregon, and the Postmaster General regarding Oregon ballots with insufficient postage.

What I told the emailers, and Rick when he was in town on Saturday, is that there is a backstory here.  It may not speak to the specifics of the postage question, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.

Now Jeff Mapes of the Oregonian is on the story, as is a local television station, so I’ll lay the rest out for readers to evaluate.  It’s a lot more than most of you want to know!

The short story is that Kate Brown, Oregon Secretary of State, is in a fierce race with a Republican challenger.  Oregon Secretaries of State almost never lose, and Brown is likely to win by a small margin.  There is some bad blood between Brown and Meek, and even more between Brown and Robert Wolfe, who is running against Brown on the Progressive Party label. Continue reading

Early Voting Rates in Ohio Early Voting Rates in Ohio

These data are “fresh” as of end of day Friday, and downloaded from the Secretary of State’s website.

Data from the Ohio Secretary of State as of 11/2/2012

Validating survey responses for voting: new article by Ansolabehere and Hersh

Really superb new piece by Ansolabehere and Hersh in the forthcoming Political Analysis.  While the underlying technology is pretty fierce, Steve and Eitan do an excellent job, I think, in making the material accessible.  Anyone who has been skeptical about survey self-reports should read the paper–it provides optimism and pessimism on both sides.

From the abstract:

Social scientists rely on surveys to explain political behavior. From consistent overreporting of voter turnout, it is evident that responses on survey items may be unreliable and lead scholars to incorrectly estimate the correlates of participation. Leveraging developments in technology and improvements in public records, we conduct the first-ever fifty-state vote validation. We parse overreporting due to response bias from overreporting due to inaccurate respondents. We find that nonvoters who are politically engaged and equipped with politically relevant resources consistently misreport that they voted. This finding cannot be explained by faulty registration records, which we measure with new indicators of election administration quality. Respondents are found to misreport only on survey items associated with socially desirable outcomes, which we find by validating items beyond voting, like race and party. We show that studies of representation and participation based on survey reports dramatically misestimate the differences between voters and nonvoters.

It’s currently free access at http://pan.oxfordjournals.org/content/20/4/437.abstract

Harvesting the Florida Early Voting Files: A Users Guide Harvesting the Florida Early Voting Files: A Users Guide

Charles Stewart has been updating the Florida early voting returns on a daily basis, so I’m not going to reproduce his work here.  Readers will have to be satisfied with a lame bar chart.

Getting to the Florida files proves to be a lot more complicated than North Carolina.  Florida is probably the second-easiest state to work with, so that tells you how difficult, opaque, and at times expensive it can be to work with voter files.  I look forward to a day where states agree upon common data formats or at least to make voter files more readily accessible.

The first challenge in Florida is that 67 separate early voting files need to be “harvested” from the Elections website.  This is more complicated than it might appear at first blush, but web harvesting is an important skill for anyone who works with data from the web.

The attached PowerPoint illustrates the steps, including some power user Unix commands to quickly manipulate the files using the terminal window.  These steps can be performed using a graphic user interface in Windows or on a Mac, but, like web harvesting, anyone who manipulates data files of this size and number needs to learn (or relearn) the command line.

Processing the files in Stata turns out to be relatively simple–the files are all formatted the same way.  Click here for the do file.