In 2008, President Obama took a big swing through Florida, starting 18 days before Election Day. I describe this in a forthcoming book chapter as the first get out the early vote rally in 2008.
It looks like the campaign is starting even early this year. At a recent appearance in Iowa, Obama urged his supporters to start casting their ballots on Sept. 27, the first day you can vote “absentee in person” in the Hawkeye State.
I applaud Secy of State John Husted’s decision in Ohio to set uniform times for early voting throughout the state of Ohio.
I disagree with the legislature’s decision to eliminate weekend early voting, which is utilized by many citizens who have less flexibility during the week. Also, as shown by the National Conference of State Legislature’s absentee and early voting page and reflected in our early voting calendar, 11 early voting states are able to end early voting the Monday before election day, and 5 more end on the Saturday before. 12 states require at least one Saturday or Sunday opening and in other states, counties are given the flexibility to open on the weekends (we have no data on how many actually choose to do so).
Data that we have reported previously at EVIC shows that the number of early voters climbs day by day as election day approaches, most often peaking on the last day or two (typically the weekend before). I recognize the challenges of preparing for election day when early voting has ended only a day or two before, as well as the budgetary constraints faced by many jurisdictions. (This latter, however, should be offset by election day savings when 20-40% of votes have already been cast.)
Nonetheless, Secretary Husted, by all reports, took into due consideration the opinions of local election officials, the legislature, and competing political forces. He threaded the needle superbly, and has rendered a fair and non-partisan decision.
He should be applauded for doing so, and setting a standard for expert, non-partisan election administration.
Rick is one of the nation’s leading legal experts in election law, including campaign finance, voting technology, and voting rights. His new book, The Voting Wars, has already garnered a lot of press coverage. Rick is known to many through the Election Law blog, a daily update of election law news and commentary.
To top it off, Rick is a dear friend, and is unfailingly warm and collegial. This should be a fun and provocative event.
(Crossposted to Earlyvoting.net)
Tomorrow, a hearing in Ohio may determine whether or not voters can cast early ballots in the three days preceding the November election.
The current situation is in flux, with apparently non-uniform hours not only for military and non-military voters, but also across counties. I can see why Sec’y of State Husted is considering issuing a directive to standardize hours statewide and avoid a presidential election year controversy.
Nationwide, the period of early voting varies widely, particularly when you consider early in-person voting separately from by-mail absentee balloting. We have been collecting these periods nationwide for a number of years, and this year’s calendar (not in pretty graphic form yet) is provided here.
For absentee voting, many states have moved to a 45 day period, standardizing among UOCAVA and domestic ballots (exactly the opposite of what has happened in Ohio). The start of early in-person voting (depending on how you define it) is as early as September 21st and as late as October 27th.1
Two other interesting points regarding the Ohio situation. First, the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) surveys have shown that tracking UOCAVA voters is a error-prone process; a member of the military may not self-identify as a UOCAVA voter and could simply choose to vote like any other resident. How can Ohio possibly discriminate among the “known” UOCAVA voters and the “unknown” UOCAVA voters?
Second, just for context, the National Conference on State Legislatures reports that
Early voting typically ends just a few days before Election Day: on the Thursday before the election in three states, the Friday before in nine states, the Saturday before in five states, and the Monday before Election Day in 11 states.
Ending early voting on Friday puts Ohio in the lower half of states, but they are not alone in making that choice.
1 South Dakota, listed first in our early voting calendar, “shies away from using the term early in-person voting,” in our interview with the Secretary of States’s office. They do allow citizens to show up at county offices, request, and cast an absentee ballot all at once. Thus, we code this as early in-person voting, even though it is used by far less voters than the system in place in, say, Florida.
I have begun to rely on the Vote View website as a basic tool for my undergraduate students. It’s a wonderful way to gain insights into current and historical politics in the U.S., and it’s just a lot of fun.
VoteView has gone mainstream–it was cited on Rachel Maddow and I regularly see references among the smarter commentators on American economics and politics.
This, however, is going a bit too far! http://www.polarizedpolitics.com/#!polarized-politics/mainPage.
(I think Keith is actually not associated with this site, but who knows?)
I’ve been contacted about the early voting calendar for 2012. We are finalizing this document now, but a link to our 2010 calendar may help guide some reporters and advocates. The caveat, of course, is that a number of states (Florida and Ohio most notably) have made changes to the period for early voting, and these are NOT incorporated a new calendar as yet.
Also, it’s important to pay attention to the level and type of absentee voting in a state. While Kentucky is listed as the first early voting state in 2010, because the state mailed their domestic absentee ballots in mid-September, Kentucky had less than 5% ballots cast absentee. In 2010, the first early voting state with substantial levels of non-precinct place voting was Georgia, and their laws have changed.