First VBM election in Morgantown, WV reports higher turnout

So reports the Columbus, IN Republic.

There is a nice report on how the municipality handled the transition here:http://www.wvpubcast.org/newsarticle.aspx?id=19760.  The change was clearly motivated by a desire to increase turnout in municipal contests. It’s not clear how they do signature verification (the implication of this story is visual, checking against printed / signed voter registration cards).

Vote by mail and the costs of elections: updates from CO, IN, and WA

Changes to early voting are on the administrative and legislative calendar in many states and jurisdictions. A brief update from the mail bag:

  1. In Colorado, many counties have absentee ballot rates exceeding 70%. This was the threshold, by the way, that encouraged Oregon and Washington to move to full vote by mail. In Arapahoe County, less than 15% of the electorate is showing on up election day, and the county is contemplating a substantial reduction in precinct places, using election day vote centers instead. Officials estimate that they can reduce the number of election judges by 2/3.
  2. County clerk Kathy Neal, in Summit County IN, is proposing that all primaries and elections held in odd number years be conducted completely by mail. Neal expects this to result in a 25-30% cost savings by eliminating the need for election judges. Already , 40% of ballots come in via the mail in Sumit County.
  3. Pierce County, WA may finally have to move to full vote by mail elections, if a bill currently moving through the legislature passes and is signed by the governor. Part of the argument is fiscal: county auditor Julie Anderson estimates that the county spent $16.97 per precinct place vote (10,000 in 2010) vs. $6.88 per vote by mail ballot (135,000).
WaPo on Felon Disenfranchisement in Florida

This is one of a number of election reform stories that have hit the wires of late:

I know many are taking this on from a rights perspective, but I wonder if there is an additional task. For those who work on these issues, is there any evidence that shows that five years is a reasonable time to evaluate a felon’s probability of recidivism, or in the words of Attorney General Beal’s: “rehabilitation and commitment to a crime-free life”?

I’m also wondering why the Executive Clemency Board has jurisdiction over this issue?

How Emanuel residency challenge could imperil early voting

As I warned on recently, extended litigation of Emanuel’s candidacy could imperil early voting,which is scheduled to begin on January 31st.

The other shoe dropped today. Unless the Supreme Court can rule in a few days, it is difficult for me to see how election officials can get ready by Monday. (Unless I am wrong, Chicago voters have the opion of voting on a DRE or using an opscan.)

By the way, UOCAVA ballots began to be delivered on January 8th. Presumably, Emanuel’s name is on those ballots which are already being voted.

Will Indiana push forward on vote centers?

This report from the Ft. Wayne, IN News-Sentinel seems to indicate so.  The story includes a claim of a $40,000 cost savings by using vote centers. 

Chicago mayoral race may be complicated by early voting

The Tribune reports that any continued legal challenges to Emanuel’s candidacy could cause problems with early voting, scheduled to start January 31.

St. Petersburg Times editorializes for a shorter domestic absentee ballot timeline

Nice op-ed in the St. Petersburg Times echoes arguments that I have been making for a while.  Just because overseas ballots need to be mailed 45 days ahead of election day, there is no reason to tie domestic ballots to the same timeline. 

Faster counts are possible, but may be costly

I was at a meeting in Austin this weekend for a series of Pew initiatives, and the costs of elections remained a regular point of discussion.  Thus, this story from Walton, GA caught my eye.  The Board of Elections apparently told the County commissioners that they could produce a faster count, but only at the cost of paying to have staff “sequestered” to start counting absentee ballots before the polls close.

This is a point I’ve raised many times before–it is possible to have a speedier count and have no-excuse absentee ballots, but it requires a jurisdiction to begin processing those ballots as they arrive, and not wait until election day (or election night).  Save such procedures (and costs), a slower count is unavoidable. 

CA registrars counter allegations that mishandled VBM ballots changed a congressional election outcome

The losing candidate in California’s 11th congressional district is charging that mishandled vote by mail ballots caused him to lose the race.

The challenge partially turns on the rules governing witness challenges to signature verification. The losing candidate claims that campaign volunteers should have been able to challenge signatures.

Two registrars, including Steve Weir of Contra Costa, who has previously served as head of the county clerk’s association, respond that challenges are only valid if a) voters have falsified their identities or b) staff are not following proper procedures.

Full story in the Lodi News-Sentinel. 

Why election counts are getting slower, from NCSL’s Canvass

This month’s Canvass on election counts, including quotes from yours truly!