More good publicity for Turbo Vote

More nice publicity for TurboVote (Chronicle of Higher Ed) and online voter registration (Pew Report), but the comments section descends into the sadly predictable debate over voter ID.

More on turnover in state houses

Karl Kurtz of The Thicket provides some additional information on legislative turnover rates in state houses.

Wisconsin absentee ballot returns?

I found absentee ballot counts in Dane County, WI but I don’t have the energy to search all the other townships and counties in the state.  There are  lots of reports of heavy absentee voting in the recall election, which could be a result of mobilization efforts, or could mean that Wisconsin voters have made up their minds, or both.

It would be nice if the Govt Accountability Board posted something on their website.   The recall election page is here but there are no returns.

Oregonians finally notice that voting by mail doesn’t necessarily mean by mail

Candidate Support by Result Reports, Portland Mayors Race

(Graphic courtesy of Kari Chisholm,

I have noted in the past that a substantial percentage of Oregon ballots are hand delivered by voters to county offices or satellite drop boxes on election day.

The state’s major paper, the Oregonian, seems to have finally taken note of this trend, likely because in the most recent mayoral contest, the first returns were based primarily on “by mail” ballots while the final returns included ballots dropped off on election day.  The results were quite different.  Early returns indicated that Charlie Hales was ahead by as many as 10 points over Jefferson Smith, while the final returns showed them apart by only 4.4% (37.2% to 32.9%).

Final returns are here and the hour by hour reports are here (scroll down to view reports 1-10).

There has been some local speculation about what this indicates about who supports Smith (young voters?  late deciders?) and how his GOTV operation worked.

What’s interesting to me as a scholar of early voting, however, is what this shows about the voting by mail system.  Observers who are less knowledgable about VBM describe the system as if every ballot came through the postal service, but election officials in Oregon, Washington, California, and other states know that a significant number of “by mail” voters still hold their ballot until the end and deliver it “in person” on election day.

Size matters. And so do a lot of other things.

I appreciated Doug Chapin’s posting about David Kimball (FULL professor now, folks) and Brady Baybeck’s paper titled “Size Matters in Election Administration“, presented at OSU Moritz School of Law’s “HAVA at 10” conference.

I’ll leave you to Doug’s posting for the nitty gritty, but I wanted to add an important thought for anyone who does comparative election study in the United States: because “size matters” so much in the U.S., a lot of other things matter as well, and it’s vital to take them all into account. It may be the case that large jurisdictions face different problems than small jurisdictions.

But it’s not enough to just show that large jurisdictions process, for example, 89% of the provisional ballots cast in the U.S., because large jurisdictions also 63% of the voters.  It’s the difference between the two–89%-63%–that is the quantity of interest. Furthermore, it may not be “size” that matters, but other things that covary with size: number of lower income voters, number of Latino voters, or the number of mobile voters.

My first takeaway from Kimball and Baybeck was: excellent first take at the disparate situation faced by jurisdictions in the U.S.

And my second takeaway was:  someone out there needs to connect the characteristics of LEO’s, jurisdictions, states, and citizens to really help disentangle these effects.  This is a great next project for some enterprising graduate student at CalTech, MIT, University of Maryland, Ohio State, University of Minnesota, University of Utah, or University of Missouri-St Louis (to name a few of the usual suspects!).