- Reuters reports on the continuing legal battles over early voting, even as citizens begin to cast their ballots. Amid court challenges, early voting begins in U.S. election [Gronke comments: Along with Hasen and Persily, though speaking only for myself, both parties are fighting hard but this is unlikely to make much of a difference.]
- Ohio officials have mailed out no-excuse absentee ballots statewide and are urging citizens to return them on a timely basis. Cuyahoga County officials encourage early voting to avoid long lines on Election Day [Gronke comments: a natural experiment in action!]
- Kentucky SoS Alison Grimes endorses a bill that will allow overseas citizens and members of the military to return absentee ballots by email. Grimes proposes letting overseas troops vote by email [Gronke comments: if voting by email is quicker and more secure for the troops, why not allow this for everyone?]
Michael McDonald and I have agreed on a hashtag: #earlyvote.
Set your twitter filters accordingly. Back to your regularly scheduled blog.
It’s early, but the first ballot return rates are coming in from North Carolina and some patterns are emerging.
- Of the 41,245 absentee ballot requests, 83% were from civilians, 8.7%were from the military, and 8% were from overseas voters.
- Civilian ballots that have been returned thus far have the highest acceptance rate (90.5% of the 1089 returned), compared to 87.4% of overseas ballots and 82.4% of military ballots.
- The main reasons for rejected ballots were cancellations, 6% of civilian and 10% of UOCAVA (there is no difference by status).
- However, already 6% of the military ballots have been returned as undeliverable, compared to only 1% of civilian ballots. This is based on an extremely small sample size–that 6% is based on just 10 returned ballots out of 165 total returned. Nonetheless, undeliverable military ballots have been a point of concern in the past.
More updates as I process this file. I think this is a great assignment for my Statistics class!
Early in-person voting starts this week in Idaho and South Dakota!
Michael McDonald has already been tracking no-excuse absentee ballots in a number of states.
Data definitely ARE beautiful, as is correct grammatical usage.
If officials are skeptical of the merit of the residual vote rate, one source that illustrates its merits is the “Residual Voting in Florida” report coauthored by me and Charles Stewart. Look in particular at pg. 55-56, which I humbly suggest is a perfect illustration of Doug’s point.
Using data from Florida, we identify the two highest residual vote rate precincts in the state–two precincts that are wholly contained within elder care facilities. We further show that the rate in the two precincts is completely driven by high error rates on absentee ballots.
We can’t diagnose the disease in full. It may be that elderly citizens are making more errors because they can’t ask for help from poll workers when completing the ballot. It may be that the text is printed too small, causing difficulties for citizens with vision impairment. Or perhaps the ballot itself is confusing in unexpected ways.
But at least now we know where to look.
The takeaway chart is here:
Florida’s Secretary of State Rick Detzner describes the process as:
A successful process to identify illegally registered voters on Florida’s voter rolls. We want every Florida voter to be confident that their vote is protected and not hurt in any way by the illegal activity of others.
If this is success, I’d hate to see failure. The number of non-citizens who have been found on the rolls thus far: 207. That’s a sign to noise ratio of 7.3% (207/(207+2625)).
Those 207 voters constitute .000018 or 2/1000’ths of a percent of the registered voters in the state.
To be fair, it’s unclear at this point what the state did to the 2625 citizens who were incorrectly flagged. Reports indicate that they were sent a letter and only purged if they failed to show up or present evidence within a certain amount of time, although I suspect many citizens would resent having to go jump these hurdles given such an error-prone process. What other draconian and costly procedures will be employed next?
No reports yet on whether any of those 207 registered voters has ever cast a ballot.
There is a marvelous story in today’s Minnesota Post about the impact of a proposed voter ID amendment to legislation working its way through the Minnesota legislature.
Without weighing in on the side of the proponents or opponents to the amendment, I think that anyone interested in election law should pay close attention to the debate because it illustrates the complex and embedded nature of election legislation.
In essence, the arguments turn on the intepretation of the phrase substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification and what the implication of this phrase will be on election day registration and absentee balloting.
Takeaway lines, including a quote from my friend and colleague Doug Chapin:
Ritchie and amendment opponents argue that the short phrase is the reason that many of the elections systems that Minnesotans rely on today would have to end.
Kiffmeyer and other supporters, however, say the language is actually the key to keeping Election Day registration and not- in-person voting intact.
Doug Chapin, an elections expert at the University of Minnesota, takes a more cautious view than either the advocates or opponents of the amendment.
He said there’s no way to be sure how absentee, mail-in or military voting would be affected by the “substantially equivalent” language, or what will happen to Election Day registration.
“The first question that has to be answered is what does ‘substantially equivalent’ mean?” he said, noting that the interpretation of a seemingly common-sense string of words in legislation “can be big.”
The merger of Roll Call and CQ Daily is not going to register in a lot of circles, but I remember both as required reading for any aspiring scholar of American politics. Both publications are apparently making money, but readership patterns are shifting to online publications, and the publisher thinks they can deliver the same content at one online and print publication.
What’s interesting is how the change happened–once they allowed tablets onto the House floor, their print sales took a nosedive.
(Crossposted at Politika)
The lede from today’s Youngstown News:
Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted continued to block county boards from setting hours for early in-person voting in the final days before the November general election, days after a federal judge ordered him to instruct elections officials to do so.