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!).

Candidates for MT Sec’y of State oppose same day registration, voting by mail

As reported in today’ Helena Record.

I’m not clear whether or not this race is competitive for the GOP, but if any have a good chance to be the next SoS of Montana, I hope they will look closely at the empirical evidence on SDR/EDR, vote by mail, voter turnout and vote fraud.

There are good reasons to oppose voting my mail–it removes ballots from the hands of government officials, it lengthens the voting period, it increases voter error (overvotes and undervotes).  While the amount of voter fraud is miniscule, it’s also the case that most notable cases of fraud are associated with absentee ballots.  However, states with VBM have experienced almost no fraud, have very high voter turnout, and lots of citizen engagement in elections.

I can see no reason for the candidates to oppose same day registration, which has been consistently shown to be cost effective and consistently shows a substantial positive impact on voter turnout.  There is no evidence of a partisan advantage to same day registration.  All this information comes from the Nat’l Conference on State Legislatures, as about a non-partisan source on these matters as one would want:

NYU Journal of Legislation and Public Policy dedicated to elections and election law

Volume 15, Issue 2 of the NYU Journal of Legislation and Public Policy has some interesting articles on Citizens United and election law.  You can peruse the volume here: