If the election was held today, President Barack Obama would lose the state of Wisconsin because where his base is, we have not turned out the vote early,” Mayor Michael Hancock told a Democratic rally. “The suburbs and rural parts of Wisconsin – the Republican base – are voting. President Obama’s base has yet to go vote.
So reports Alan Blinder in the Washington Examiner.
Why dumb quote of the day. The election isn’t being held today, Mayor Hancock. The early electorate and the Election Day electorate are very different, particularly in Wisconsin, which has come to the early voting world rather late.
This is not the first time, and won’t be the last time, we see wild inferences being drawn from the early vote.
In Kitsap County, WA, heavy stock used to produce the ballot means that two stamps will be needed to return it by mail.
Dirty not very well-kept secret: USPS will deliver it anyway, and the county office had pledged to make up the difference.
A Boise Public Radio story today describes Oregon and Washington, the only fully vote by mail states in the nation, as late to the party:
But the push for “early voting” across the country is making vote-by-mail states look like late arrivals to the party. In Idaho, voters in some counties have been going to the polls since late September.
Here’s an alternative interpretation: Oregon and Washington realize that it does not take two months to deliver a vote by mail ballot a few miles verssus the few thousand miles that it takes to deliver a UOCAVA ballot.
Perhaps Oregon and Washington are latecomers to the party. All that is left on the table are a few meager morsels. The bar closed long ago.
Perhaps they are not late to the party after all. Perhaps the thirty states that mailed their absentee ballots in September (led by North Carolina, a superbly administered state, yet mailed ballots way back on September 6th) are like those early arriving guests, knocking on your door when you don’t even have the hors d’oeuvres ready. Give them some cold cheese slices!
Somehow, Oregon and Washington manage to mail their ballots just over two weeks before Election Day yet still rank near the top in terms of voter participation. It seems to me that the two states time things just right, and it’s those states that encourage voters to cast a ballot two months before Election Day that may need to rethink things.
Somehow I missed the publication of this article by Melanie Springer, “State Electoral Institutions and Voter Turnout In Presidential Elections, 1920–2000” in State Politics and Policy Quarterly (gated).
Expansive and restrictive state electoral institutions have been instrumental in structuring the vote throughout American history. Studies focused on a small number of reforms, years, or states lack the scope necessary to comprehensively evaluate the effects of institutional change over time. This work, however, places recent reforms in historical context and offers a long-term perspective. Using an original data set, it identifies the institutions that have generated the most substantial effects on state turnout rates during presidential elections from 1920 to 2000. Findings demonstrate that restrictive laws (those aiming to limit the vote or make voting more costly) produced large and consistently negative effects in the Southern and non-Southern states alike, but the effects associated with expansive reforms (those making participation more convenient or less costly) vary. Although a few expansive laws have increased turnout in the non-Southern states, they have had no effect in the Southern states where turnout rates are lowest.
A front-page piece in the NY Times by Adam Liptak focuses on one of the more serious consequences of the rise in absentee voting.
First, absentee votes are more likely to fall prey to innocuous mistakes that lead to rejections. The article notes that “election officials reject almost 2 percent of ballots cast by mail, double the rate for in-person voting”.
Second, fraud is both theoretically easier to commit through absentee voting, and there have been more documented instances of absentee voting fraud in the last several years than in person voting fraud. Several of the most notable instances of absentee voting fraud are included in the article.
The article does not withhold the irony that those who focus on making voting more efficient and fraud less likely for in person voting may be missing the point. The reality on the ground is that absentee voting is a growing phenomenon and is much more fertile ground for potential fraud and ballot mistakes
The article is a fine read. It touches for a moment upon the essential tension between the “elemental promises of democracy” that are questioned when voting can no longer be trusted, and the democratizing effects of a balloting system that makes voting available to so many more people. Since absentee voting appears to be a permanent fixture in US elections for the time being, this is a tension we need to continue dealing with
- Reuters reports on the continuing legal battles over early voting, even as citizens begin to cast their ballots. Amid court challenges, early voting begins in U.S. election [Gronke comments: Along with Hasen and Persily, though speaking only for myself, both parties are fighting hard but this is unlikely to make much of a difference.]
- Ohio officials have mailed out no-excuse absentee ballots statewide and are urging citizens to return them on a timely basis. Cuyahoga County officials encourage early voting to avoid long lines on Election Day [Gronke comments: a natural experiment in action!]
- Kentucky SoS Alison Grimes endorses a bill that will allow overseas citizens and members of the military to return absentee ballots by email. Grimes proposes letting overseas troops vote by email [Gronke comments: if voting by email is quicker and more secure for the troops, why not allow this for everyone?]
Florida’s Secretary of State Rick Detzner describes the process as:
A successful process to identify illegally registered voters on Florida’s voter rolls. We want every Florida voter to be confident that their vote is protected and not hurt in any way by the illegal activity of others.
If this is success, I’d hate to see failure. The number of non-citizens who have been found on the rolls thus far: 207. That’s a sign to noise ratio of 7.3% (207/(207+2625)).
Those 207 voters constitute .000018 or 2/1000’ths of a percent of the registered voters in the state.
To be fair, it’s unclear at this point what the state did to the 2625 citizens who were incorrectly flagged. Reports indicate that they were sent a letter and only purged if they failed to show up or present evidence within a certain amount of time, although I suspect many citizens would resent having to go jump these hurdles given such an error-prone process. What other draconian and costly procedures will be employed next?
No reports yet on whether any of those 207 registered voters has ever cast a ballot.
The merger of Roll Call and CQ Daily is not going to register in a lot of circles, but I remember both as required reading for any aspiring scholar of American politics. Both publications are apparently making money, but readership patterns are shifting to online publications, and the publisher thinks they can deliver the same content at one online and print publication.
What’s interesting is how the change happened–once they allowed tablets onto the House floor, their print sales took a nosedive.
(Crossposted at Politika)
The lede from today’s Youngstown News:
Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted continued to block county boards from setting hours for early in-person voting in the final days before the November general election, days after a federal judge ordered him to instruct elections officials to do so.
In 2008, President Obama took a big swing through Florida, starting 18 days before Election Day. I describe this in a forthcoming book chapter as the first get out the early vote rally in 2008.
It looks like the campaign is starting even early this year. At a recent appearance in Iowa, Obama urged his supporters to start casting their ballots on Sept. 27, the first day you can vote “absentee in person” in the Hawkeye State.