The public does support voter ID laws, even if they don't know much about how these laws operate The public does support voter ID laws, even if they don’t know much about how these laws operate

It’s almost always correct that the devil is in the details, but it’s difficult to convey these details in short articles.  Making things worse, headline writers have a tendency toward clickbait.

Both tendencies are evident in a provocatively titled article, ” The public doesn’t support restrictive voter ID laws, but many new ones will be in force in 2016,” by Herman Schwartz in the Reuter’s Public Opinion Blog.

The title, read in isolation, is wrong, or at best badly misleading.   The public strongly supports a requirement to show a photo ID prior to voting.  Support is strong whether the question is asked in a very generic fashion or when specific kinds of photo IDs are described.   Schwartz looked at 37 polls for his commentary, including one that I collaborated on with scholars at MIT and Appalachian State University.  We report detailed question wordings for 19 polls are reported in the Appendix to our paper.

Our data (shown below) indicates that  support is uniformly strong among Republicans, while Democratic support varies by ideology, level of education, and attention to politics.  Nonetheless, more than half of Democrats (and far more Independents and Republicans) support photo ID in recent polls.

Partisan Support for Photo ID

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Early voting legislation under consideration in NY

Senate bill 8582, introduced 11/18/2015 in the New York legislature, would provide for early in-person voting in the Empire State.

I’ve talked to NY state legislators before, but not about this legislation.  It does contain some useful provisions that I often recommend, including:

  • A population based floor (but no ceiling) on the number of early voting locations
  • Allows for early voting “vote centers” in the City of New York (not county based)
  • An early voting period that includes two weekends and requires some Saturday and Sunday voting, and requires at least one early voting location in each county to stay open until 8 in the evening

Early voting locations are also subject to other location provisions, assuring that not just numbers, but accessibility will be taken into account:

POLLING PLACES FOR EARLY VOTING SHALL BE LOCATED TO ENSURE, TO THE
   11  EXTENT PRACTICABLE, THAT ELIGIBLE VOTERS HAVE ADEQUATE EQUITABLE ACCESS,
   12  TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION POPULATION DENSITY, TRAVEL TIME TO THE POLLING
   13  PLACE,  PROXIMITY  TO  OTHER  LOCATIONS  OR COMMONLY USED TRANSPORTATION
   14  ROUTES AND SUCH OTHER FACTORS THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS OF  THE  COUNTY  OR
   15  THE  CITY OF NEW YORK DEEMS APPROPRIATE.
Brennan Center report on voting laws and the 2016 Election

Another excellent report by Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center.  Even if you don’t agree with their position on some of these legal changes, they maintain some of the best resources for election laws and procedures.

Can the Supreme Court Handle Social Science? New ELB Podcast

An excellent new podcast as part of Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog (ELB) series features Prof. Nathan Persily addressing the question “can the Supreme Court handle social science?”  Persily addresses the question in light of recent litigation over campaign finance and voter identification.

Persily is well-known in the election reform community; for the broader political science community, Persily received his PhD in Political Science from Berkeley, his JD from Stanford, and served as research director for the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.  Many may be familiar with him from his recent edited volume on Cambridge Solutions to Political Polarization in America.

Any political scientist who is interested in how the Court and the legal community views our scholarship, and more generally in how social science can be made more comprehensible and impactful in the policy community, would do well to listen to this short 30 minute podcast.

APSA Presentation link

A quick link to Peter Miller and my paper on public opinion and torture. not pertinent to Early Voting but this lets us get to our presentation.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1VispTEWI49-BnQhL8k0oYYMKgD3xiS0qJqAKwbwlCAA/edit?usp=sharing

Election Sciences, Election Administration, and Election Law Panels at APSA

The APSA meeting is coming up next week in San Francisco.  I searched the online program using the terms “election reform”, “election law”, and “election administration”, and a subset of hits from “campaign finance”. The following list of panels may be of interest to my readership.  Please feel free to chime in on the comments if I have missed any key panels.

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The Advance of Online Voter Registration The Advance of Online Voter Registration

As reported in the 2015 EAC EAVS

 

OVR_Map_2014

Using the EAVS: Voter Registration Using the EAVS: Voter Registration

The Election Assistance Commission’s Election Administration and Voting Survey has been released.  This is the first in a series of posts that will highlight some patterns and anomalies in the data.

The EAVS is one of the best ways to assess whether or not a state is adhering to the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which obligates states, among other things, to provide the option to register to vote via motor vehicle agencies and other social service agencies.

To assess compliance, however, the data need to be reported.  I have shown below a table that reports the state by state totals from three variables in the EAVS that should in principle have the same value:

  • QA5a – “The total number of registration forms received by your jurisdiction”
  • QA6_Total” – “Registration forms received, broken down by source”, the reported figure should be a sum of the individual sources, but is also labeled explicitly on the questionnaire as “QA5a”, alerting the jurisdiction that that total here should match the total listed above.
  • Regtotal – My own calculated total of registration forms from all sources.

The data are reported by state below.  As you can see, there are only eleven states where all three figures match as they are supposed to: AL, CO, CT, LA, ME, MI, MN, NC, NH, OR, and WY.   ND is not required to report this information.  These states get an “A+” for reporting.

Wisconsin simply forgot to enter the “total” for QA6_Total, but the numbers match. We’ll give them an “A”.

Idaho, New Jersey, and South Dakota reported nothing for the NVRA section at all. Not sure they can get a grade other than “F”.

I haven’t probed the other differences in order to give more nuanced grades. I’ll leave that to other experts.

Untitled

 

 

Required reading on redistricting by Derek Muller

Hat tip to Rick Hasen; Derek Muller has written a really wonderful primer on the constitutional history of representation and redistricting in the United States, masquerading as a commentary on the Evenwel case.

Required reading not just for interested students and scholars, but any citizen (and should we add non-citizen?  under 18?  disenfranchised felon? non-registered yet eligible??) in the United States.

MIT Conference: New Research on Election Administration and Reform

I’m looking forward to reading the papers and hearing about new research into election administration next week.  This is an open, public conference; not sure if proceedings will be on the web.  Papers should start to appear next week.

https://electionconference2015.mit.edu/agenda