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.
Back from my well-needed two week hiatus in Spain, I have been catching up on Doug Chapin’s election administration posts. Doug has posted the pleadings for the Texas ID case here for those with time on their hands.
I’m in this week’s Electionline Weekly, talking about the U.S. Votes Foundation’s new registration and absentee ballot portal. (Apologies to Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, I referred to them as “AVF” and not “USVF” in my comments).
The most recent Election Dispatch from Pew highlights how election centers can actually result in higher costs, depending on the county and the availability of appropriate rental facilities.
I learned the same thing from Brian Newby of Johnson County, KS when he and I served on a post-election review commission in 2009.
Brian made it clear that proposals for vote centers would not work well in Johnson County. While it may surprise some from other regions, the problem in Johnson County was that there simply weren’t enough of the right kind of facilities, facilities that had reliable power and internet, could be secured every night, had easy access for voting machines and sufficient parking, were ADA compliant, and, perhaps most important of all, could be rented for a month at a reasonable rate.
Bob Stein and Greg Vonnahme have provided the scholarly grounding for vote centers, showing how they increase turnout and enhance voter convenience (ungated article here). But it’s less clear how much Bob’s results, based primarily in experiences in Colorado, might apply other jurisdictions with different population profiles, commuting patterns, and cost structures.
Karl Kurtz of The Thicket provides some additional information on legislative turnover rates in state houses.
Ok, I just couldn’t resist this story from the Fargo Forum, or the image above (courtesy of the Western Australia Office of Travel and Tourism), which sure looks like an old Holiday Inn sign!
Election officials have to find space where they can, and in some locations, facilities that are large, have parking, reliable (and sufficient) power, an internet connection, parking, are ADA compliant, and to top it off, can be rented for just a few weeks might be far and few between.
In Fargo, it looks like two local motels are just the kind of short term rental space that LEO’s need:
Early voting is available this week to all eligible Cass County voters at the following locations:
• 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., today through Friday at the Hilton Garden Inn & Suites, 4351 17th Ave S. in Fargo and at the Lodoen Kindergarten Center, 330 3rd Ave. E. in West Fargo.
• 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday through Friday at the Days Inn, 2050 Governors Drive in Casselton.
And Nathan’s hotel? Well, at least it’s “cleanish.”
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.
Candidate Support by Result Reports, Portland Mayors Race
(Graphic courtesy of Kari Chisholm, BlueOregon.com).
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%).
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.
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!).