New elections research newsletter from US Votes / OVF

This looks like a nice effort by Susan, Claire, and others at US Votes and the Overseas Vote Foundation:

https://www.overseasvotefoundation.org/files/OVF_research_newsletter_vol4_issue2_winter2014.pdf

New research on voting restrictions and African American turnout New research on voting restrictions and African American turnout
Figure 3 from Bentele and O'Brien

Figure 3 from Bentele and O’Brien

An interesting new article by Keith Bentele and Erin O’Brien at the University of Massachusetts, Boston came out in the December 2013 Perspectives on Politics.  Titled “Jim Crow 2.0? Why States Consider and Adopt Restrictive Voter Access Policies.” It should be of interest to everyone in the political science, law, and policy side of election administration.  (Hat tip to the Monkey Cage, which features a guest post by the authors.)

 

From the abstract:

Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in state legislation likely to reduce access for some voters, including photo identification and proof of citizenship requirements, registration restrictions, absentee ballot voting restrictions, and reductions in early voting. Political operatives often ascribe malicious motives when their opponents either endorse or oppose such legislation. In an effort to bring empirical clarity and epistemological standards to what has been a deeply-charged, partisan, and frequently anecdotal debate, we use multiple specialized regression approaches to examine factors associated with both the proposal and adoption of restrictive voter access legislation from 2006–2011. Our results indicate that proposal and passage are highly partisan, strategic, and racialized affairs. These findings are consistent with a scenario in which the targeted demobilization of minority voters and African Americans is a central driver of recent legislative developments.We discuss the implications of these results for current partisan and legal debates regarding voter restrictions and our understanding of the conditions incentivizing modern suppression efforts. Further, we situate these policies within developments in social welfare and criminal justice policy that collectively reduce electoral access among the socially marginalized.

TurboVote is growing (and hiring!)

Some exciting news out of TurboVote–they are partnering with the Pew Center on the States’s Elections Initiatives.

And more exciting for some–TurbeVote is hiring!  Read all the news here: http://blog.turbovote.org/2013/11/05/wanted-talent-for-democracy/

New International Election Standards Portal from Carter Center

The Carter Center has announced a new elections standards portal: http://electionstandards.cartercenter.org/

According to their announcement:

“The site provides an overview of our work and role in building consensus on an obligations-based approach to election observation and support that is rooted in international human rights law. It also gives direct access to our expanding set of tools, statements and reports.”

Pew’s Election Snapshot for California

Image courtesy of the Pew Elections Initiative

Pew’s Election Snapshot of California (see also here for a PDF) links to a nice graphic showing the dramatic rise in absentee voting in California.

APSA Panel on Shelby County case

A very interesting panel coming up at the APSA meetings in Chicago is shown below.  My only worry is that Rick Hasen has already posted his paper on SSRN. Doesn’t Rick realize that APSA papers are not supposed to be written prior to a week before the conference?

Looks like a great panel, and I’ll definitely be there.

Law and Political Process Study Group
Panel 1   The Future of the Voting Rights Act After the Shelby County Case
Date: Thursday, Aug 29, 2013, 2:00 PM-3:45 PM
Location: Room assignments are pending. Check back soon for room assignments. Only those registered for the meeting can view room assignments. Subject to change. Check the Final Program at the conference.
Chair(s): Bruce E. Cain
Stanford University, be.cain48@gmail.com
Author(s):
Regional Differences in Racial Polarization in the 2012 Presidential Election: Implications for the Constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act
Charles Stewart
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, cstewart@mit.edu
  Stephen D. Ansolabehere
  Harvard University, sda@gov.harvard.edu
Racially Polarized Voting, Dilution, and Preclearance: Post-Shelby County
Richard L. Engstrom
Duke University, richard.engstrom@duke.edu
Shelby County and the Illusion of Minimalism
Richard L. Hasen
University of California-Irvine, rhasen@law.uci.edu
The Constitutional Structure of Voting Rights Enforcement
Franita Tolson
Florida State University, ftolson@law.fsu.edu
Discussant(s): Luis Ricardo Fraga
University of Washington, lrfraga@uw.edu
Guy-Uriel Charles
Duke University School of Law, charles@law.duke.edu

 

Committee to study election law and procedures in New Hampshire

The bill text is contained here: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2013/HB0521.html

Hat tip to the Sunlight Foundation’s “Scout” system that I have signed up for and alerted me to this bill.

Full text of controversial Wisconsin election law proposal

The text of a bill being shopped for co-sponsorship by Rep. Jeff Stone is available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mLjnrnzcwYTxmG5gREKaFLD0sazb58DwZ4UgJjypIAk/edit

It’s not clear to me what the impact will be of the proposed changes to early voting.  It appears that Madison and Milwaukee kept their early voting locations open longer hours and on holidays, while other counties did not.  I’m generally not a fan of shortening early voting hours without a good rationale, but there is a reasonable argument to be made for standardized days statewide.  The typical response, which also has some credence, is that different counties have different populations and different situations.  I’d mostly prefer a floor on availability (a mandated level of equity if you will)  while allowing counties the option to provide more times and places.

The proposal disallows early voting on the Saturday and Sunday before an election, a mistake in my judgment.  A GAO report, among other sources, shows the positive impact on turnout and convenience of weekend voting, and eleven states seem to manage just fine with early voting ending on Monday while five more end it the last Saturday before Election Day.

Recent GAO report on voter accessibility

A recently released GAO report titled “Voters with Disabilities: Challenges to Voter Accessibility” should be of interest to the election community and to the new Presidential commission.

While challenges remain, there is no way to read this report in my opinion other than as good news.  HAVA and state and local responses to polling place problems identified in the debate over HAVA have clearly improved accessibility at the polls. From the summary:

Compared to 2000, the proportion of polling places in 2008 without potential impediments increased and almost all polling places had an accessible voting  system as states and localities made various efforts to help facilitate accessible voting. In 2008, based upon GAO’s survey of polling places, GAO estimated that 27 percent of polling places had no potential impediments in the path from the parking to the voting area—up from16 percent in 2000; 45 percent had potential impediments but offered curbside voting; and the remaining 27 percent had potential impediments and did not offer curbside voting. All but one polling place GAO visited had an accessible voting system—typically, an electronic machine in a voting station—to facilitate private and independent voting for people with disabilities. However, 46 percent of polling places had an accessible voting system that could pose a challenge to certain voters with disabilities, such as voting stations that were not arranged to accommodate voters using wheelchairs. In GAO’s 2008 state survey, 43 states reported that they set accessibility standards for polling places, up from 23 states in 2000.

Much of the data in the report is contained in two previous studies conducted during the 2008 election. It’s unfortunate that Congressional funding of elections-related research seems to be drying up.  How useful would it have been to replicate the GAO’s random selection and observation of 730 polling places in 2008?  That’s a election-science dream.

Gary Bartlett’s parting interview with electionline weekly

Following Doug Chapin’s lead, re-disseminating Gary Bartlett’s wonderful parting comments in electionline weekly after his replacement after 20 years as Director of the North Carolina Board of Elections.

Gary has accomplished many things in two decades, but for scholars, NC has long been known as among the best states in terms of data availability and dissemination. I hope the new Board continues along this track.