GOP in Iowa include absentee ballot forms in “goodie bags” for troops

Interesting initiative by the Iowa GOP.  I’m not sure why this even merits coverage, it’s legal and it’s probably a good idea.

Honolulu Star Advertiser demonstrates how NOT to do political analysis

Richard Borreca of The Honolulu Star Advertiser celebrates “thoughtful and engaged electorate“.

Sounds like good news, right? No, it’s a terribly done story on two grounds. First, “surveying” the electorate by hanging out for an hour outside of polling place is bad practice.  The writer acknowledges that he is using an “admittedly small sample” (it’s not a SAMPLE for crying out loud!).

But worse, generalizing from early in person voters who were interested and engaged enough to vote on the first day of early in person voting to the full electorate is … is … really really bad.

Alaska Senate contest stories

“More accusations made in Alaska Senate primary contest” Anchorage Daily News(August 28)

“Efforts made to skew results” Washington Post “The Fix” (Aug 30)

“Observers watching absentee ballot count closely” Alaska Public Radio (audio) (Aug 27)

“Number of untallied votes rises in Alaska Senate Race” Anchorage Daily News courtesy of Miami Herald / Associated Press (Aug 29)

Absentee ballots delivered online in Maryland

A neat use of technology in absentee balloting is going live in Maryland. Beginning with the upcoming gubernatorial primary in September, voters will be able to print the appropriate absentee ballot directly from their own computers.

From the article:

Those who created the program argue that these voters cannot vote in person, may not know what address they will be at on election day, and until now have had to wait for the postal system to deliver their absentee ballot, which can pose problems for overseas voters. By getting their ballot from the Internet, voters no longer have to worry where their ballot should be mailed to or how long it will take to arrive.

Longer early voting period in GA does not increase turnout in primary

Political scientist Chuck Bullock notes that a longer, early voting period in Georgia did not result in an increase in turnout (full story is in the Moultrie Observer).

Chuck’s quote:

It seems logical if you extend the voting time you increase voting,” he said. “It turns out it doesn’t work that way. The early research suggested it did bump up participation. All the later research discounts that. More convenience and increasing the time didn’t increase the vote.”

Cuyahoga County, OH notices higher voter error rate as VBM increases

A story in The Plain Dealer notes that voting errors increase as the use of vote by mail increases. 

What’s interesting about this story is that it focuses on a basic mechanical “mistake,” meaning that voters failed to include a proper form of identification or did not use the secrecy envelope.  The much more common error results from voters mis-marking the ballot (over and undervotes).  Residual vote studies have long shown higher rates of voter errors whenever a central count system is used, where voters are not given real-time feedback on the accuracy of their use of the ballot.

Balloting for the busy

From Stateline, Kat Zambon has a piece noting the efforts by some local election officials to help voters cast their ballots through innovation and new technology.

She focuses particularly on developments in early voting:

Some 32 states now allow people to vote early, and 29 allow people to vote absentee for any reason — so called “no excuse” laws that are tailored exclusively to voters’ convenience. Iowa is making it possible for absentee voters to track their ballots like a FedEx package. And in Oregon, which also has a primary election today, all ballots now are cast through the mail. (Today is merely the day that ballots mailed in over the past few weeks are to be counted.)

EAC pushes internet voting for uniformed and overseas voters

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has proposed a set of draft regulations that would encourage widespread development of internet voting capabilities for the first time. Responding to requirement of the MOVE Act (2009), the EAC aims to reduce the number of UOCAVA voters whose ballots go uncounted due to “distance and unreliable mail service.” From the NYT:

Nearly three million overseas and military voters from at least 33 states will be permitted to cast ballots over the Internet in November using e-mail or fax, in part because of new regulations proposed last month by the federal agency that oversees voting.

The move comes as state and federal election officials are trying to find faster ways to handle the ballots of these voters, which often go uncounted in elections because of distance and unreliable mail service.

Wyden and Brown testify about the alleged benefits of VBM

A longer commentary will follow on Monday.  For now, the story is below.  Wyden and other senators introduced a bill this week that would make it easier for states to adopt VBM and no-excuse absentee voting, citing turnout boosts and cost savings.

Wisconsin Atty Gen’l argues that easing voter registration will lead to fraud

Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen has criticized new provisions in a bill moving through the legislature, arguing that making voter registration automatic when citizens establish or change a drivers license opens the system up to fraud.  By not requiring citizens to sign a form confirming their information, Van Hollen says the bill will “create many problems.”

I may be missing something, but I’m not sure how having voter registration information match the information on a drivers license is an invitation to fraud.