CRS Elections Analyst Position

Sounds like a good opportunity!

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) Government and Finance Division is seeking an Analyst in American National Government to analyze public policy issues related to the regulation and administration of elections and voting in the United States. The focus of the Division’s work in this area is on the role played by various institutions, policies, and procedures in shaping electoral processes and practices. The issues may include, but are not limited to, election administration, voter registration and turnout, apportionment and redistricting, voting rights, and other election policies and practices.

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/481538900/

Full vote by mail may be in place by this fall in Maricopa County, AZ

Maricopa County, AZ is the second largest election jurisdiction in the United States (after Los Angeles County) and is contemplating a move to all-mail ballot delivery, with ballot returns by mail, drop box, or use of a “ballot center.”

This story from the Arizona Republic is lengthy, and it illustrates a lot of the concerns that will be raised in other localities who may contemplate the switch:

  • Is it secure?
  • It is efficient?
  • Is it fair to everyone?
  • I like voting in person, can’t I continue to do so?

Here’s the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2017/06/20/county-recorder-adrian-fontes-changes-voting-system-fall-2017/391279001/

OMV Report covered in NY Times

EVIC (or at least a report we worked on) is in the news!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/opinion/increasing-voter-turnout-2018.html

Job Posting: Anxieties of Democracy Program at SSRC

http://www.ssrc.org/about/employment/listings/anxieties-of-democracy-program-director/

Election Law Program, William Mary Law School, Williamsburg, Virginia Seeks Full-Time Program Manager

From the email:

The Election Law Program (ELP) is a joint project of William & Mary Law School and the National Center for State Courts. ELP develops resources to assist judges in understanding the unique challenges election litigation presents. ELP is seeking a full-time Program Manager to help oversee and execute Program projects.

The Election Law Program Manager will be responsible for implementing a grant to expand ELP tools and resources, including the eBenchbook project. The Program Manager will be responsible for conducting legal research, coordinating with state election law experts and officials, and supervising student research. The Program Manager will also participate in strategic planning processes and oversee implementation of ELP projects.
Bachelor’s degree required; JD strongly preferred
Demonstrated legal research experience; non-profit experience a plus.
Demonstrated strong communication and organizational skills, with excellent attention to detail.
Demonstrated ability to work independently and to manage multiple tasks.
Demonstrated experience in project management.
Previous experience supervising others.
Background in election law/election administration preferred
Strong graphic design, computer and web skills a plus.

More information about this position is available here and here. Please contact Rebecca Green at rgreen@wm.edu with questions.

Redistricting reform on the Oregon agenda?

Secretary of State Dennis Richardson continues to try to make a mark, this time by creating a task force to study the feasibility of an independent redistricting commission in the state.  Richardson has penned an op-ed about the effort published by Pamplin Media

More information as this process moves forward.

Always love reposting that image!

Early Voting Under Consideration in the Northeast Early Voting Under Consideration in the Northeast
Image courtesy of the National Conference of State Legislatures (http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/absentee-and-early-voting.aspx)

Image courtesy of the National Conference of State Legislatures (http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/absentee-and-early-voting.aspx)

A number of Northeast states are considering adding or expanding early voting, according to a story in The Hill. 

I hope that administrators and legislators in the states make sure they make a decision based on comprehensive and accurate information and not rely on anecdote.

Most importantly, early voting has a complicated relationship to overall voter turnout.  Most studies show a small but positive relationship, though one prominent study reports a negative relationship. If you put in more early voting locations, more citizens vote early (but it’s not clear if more voters overall cast a ballot). 

Jan Leighley and Jonathan Nagler put it best in a recent blog posting (in the context of voter registration laws): higher turnout depends mostly on parties and candidates, not on changes to voting laws. 

The point?  New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner is quoted in the story and his statement reflects many common misconceptions about early voting: 

“We’re seeing turnout nationally go down in each of the last three elections even as more and more states rush to make it easier to vote by having early voting,”

Misconception 1: there has been no “rush” to add early voting options since 2008. The rate of states adding early voting provisions has slowed substantially as we get down the final 13 holdouts (according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 37 states plus DC offered some form of early voting in 2016, compared to 36 plus DC in 2012, and 34 in 2008).

Misconception 2: turnout has not declined for the last three cycles. Final totals in 2016 appear to be slightly up from 2012 and about 2% lower than 2008.  

Misconception 3: national turnout is the best way to understand the impact of state and local laws. National totals disguise enormous variation in turnout between and within states, competitiveness in statewide races, and differences in rules and laws.  There is also some scattered evidence that early voting benefits some subpopulations more than others, and this can be overlooked in national and even statewide totals. 

The second point in the article is harder to address: the costs of early voting.  Michael McDonald suggests that there is resistance to early voting in the Northeast because most of these states administer elections at the township level.  McDonald is right to highlight the importance of providing sufficient funding to jurisdictions to conduct elections, regardless of what options are offered (budgets were the most common point of discussion at a recent NCSL gathering).  

All I’d add here is that we don’t have a clear sense of how much early voting costs, and whether cost savings can be obtained by strategically reallocating resources between early voting and election day voting (though mis-forecasts of voting turnout can turn disastrous). 

The takeaway is that states considering adding early voting options should consider them mostly on the grounds of voter convenience, on how well the options can be adapted to the conditions faced by local jurisdictions, and only lastly on how they may increase overall turnout. 

More updates on Oregon Motor Voter

From today’s Oregonian.  I don’t even remember giving that quote!  

Nice job by Betsey Hammond.  More on OMV in the upcoming weeks, watch this space! 

Lesson from Mail-in ballot problems in Hawaii: Of Course Alert Voters when Signatures Don’t Match

The Hawaii Elections Commission is meeting this week to discuss problems with mail-in ballots in recent elections, and discuss an initiative to move to all by-mail elections in the state (this will require action by the legislature).

It’s hard to get details from this short news story, but one thing seems clear: the state needs to require local officials to notify voters when their ballots are invalidated due to missing or non-matching signatures. 

Those provisions are in place in Oregon (Statutory reference 254.431 Special procedure for ballots challenged due to failure to sign return envelope or nonmatching signature; public record limitation), and Washington, and Colorado. 

It may not have been endorsed yet as a “best practice” by an appropriate committee of election experts, but a follow up if the signature verification fails certainly is standard practice in the three states that conduct elections fully by mail.

The EV Tide Keeps Rising The EV Tide Keeps Rising

A couple quick posts before I head off to class.  Let’s start with the most up to date EV rates compared to 2012 rates.  These can be heavily influenced by changes in state laws, as in Massachusetts, so interpret with caution.

ev_as_ev