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: http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/same-day-registration.aspx

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: http://www.law.nyu.edu/journals/legislation/issues/Volume15Number2/index.htm

Making Electoral Democracy Work Project

I just attended a panel with Laura Stephenson and Andre Blais, two of the primary investigators for the “Making Electoral Democracy Work” project on comparative campaigns, voting,and elections.  There is an election administration component to their project, although the depth of research in that area is not yet clear.

This is a website and project to monitor for the future.

Minnesota discovers the dangers of complexity Minnesota discovers the dangers of complexity

I’ve been reading a lot more about public policy in the past few years, undoubtedly the result of the insidious influence of Doug Chapin and Thad Hall. The field has made great strides since I was in graduate school two decades ago. I cut my teeth on John Kingdon’s Alternative, Agendas, and Public Policies (now a Longman “classic”–what does that say about me!). Now the field is replete with “punctuated equilibria,” “policy narratives,” and “advocacy coalition frameworks” (all describe in Paul Sabatier’s classic text).

While these complex models of unpredictable systems may frustrate a quantitative generalist like myself, they are obviously necessary. And Minnesota’s recently passed election law demonstrates this fact as well as anything.

As Mark Fischenich writes so effectively in the Mankato Post, the law seems straightforward to legislators, but election officials realize that the “devil is in the details.” And a lot of devilishness there is!

Among the potential legal and administrative conflicts that were apparently not considered by legislators:

  • UOCAVA problems: if the law is read strictly, overseas (and other absentee) voters will be unable to cast a ballot because they cannot show an ID.
  • Same day registration problems: identity has to be verified “prior to casting a ballot”, but what does that imply for someone who shows up to register and vote at the same time?
  • Provisional avalanche: If all these same-day registration voters and voters without sufficiently validated IDs are given provisional ballots, will this result in an unanticipated avalanche?

I have written about the interdependencies of various aspects of election laws in the past, and I’m trying to finish a project on early voting that lays many of these out. But the examples and anecdotes keep changing. Voter ID adds a new layer of complexity!

Maybe Doug and Thad can sort this one out.

* Image courtesy of http://www.mindmapinspiration.com/

Romney success in banking the early votes

Recent stories on the uber-hip SXSW have mentioned the Obama campaign’s use of “big data” analytics and how other campaigns are setting up similar operations for 2012.

The GOP has also learned from Obama’s successful effort to recruit early voters. A nice story in the National Review focuses on Mitt Romney’s success in “banking” the early voters, mainly absentee by mail voters. Romney will surely continue this effort in the general election, assuming he’s the nominee.

Super Tuesday begins: No Excuse Absentee Voting in GA

Georgians begin no-excuse balloting today for the March 6 primary.  There are nine candidates on the ballot.

Update on early and absentee balloting in Florida
Absentee (In person) voting has begun in Missouri

Citizens who have registered to vote absentee can start to vote “in person” absentee in Missouri.

There aren’t a lot of Missouri absentee ballots cast–they are an “excuse required” state according to NCSL and according to our figures, 6.2% voted absentee in 2010 and 11% voted absentee in 2008.  We have not collected data on absentee voting in the primary (and can’t find it on Missouri’s website).

630,000 Florida absentee ballots include Perry, Bachmann

Orlando Sentinel: Whatever happens in the next few weeks, 630,000 absentee ballots are already in the mail. Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann are on these ballots.

Gingrich’s VA deadline for absentee is January 21

The domestic absentee mailing deadline–for many states, not tied to the 45 day window mandated by the MOVE Act for UOCAVA ballots–is starting to impact the presidential race. I’ve argued in the past that states have probably made this change to save money and ease administration, but the domestic absentee ballots could be mailed much closer to the date of the election.

Today’s Richmond Times Dispatch story reports that the deadline for Gingrich to get on the VA ballot is January 21, so that the absentee and the precinct place ballots are identical.  

A recent paper by Marc Meredity and Neil Maholtra in the Election Law Journal (this article has been designated as free content) showed how changes in the list of candidates–mainly candidates who withdraw after absentee ballots are printed and early votes are cast–can substantially alter voter decision making.  I don’t think the authors have thought about the reverse, candidates who may not be on an absentee ballot but do make it onto the polling place ballot!