The secret word for my testimony tomorrow at the Presidential Commission on Election Administration is diversity. (Alternative secret words may be complexity or heterogeneity.)
The rise of early voting has added a new layers of diversity to an already incredibly diverse election system. As the NCSL’s early and absentee voting law page shows, states have chosen different paths in adopting convenience voting systems.
The result is that voters have increasingly diverged nationwide in how they cast their ballots. These map from 2008 (the 2012 data is still incomplete) illustrates the pattern nationwide.
Compare the first map, which displays early voting rates overall, with the rates for voting by mail/absentee voting and early in-person voting (users should be able to click on the first map, then just hit the cursor keys to move between the maps).
Not only is there substantial variation among states and regions, but there are even large county by count differences within states.
Diversity and complexity characterize the American electoral landscape. It’s going to be very challenging to come up with recommendations that are specific enough to make forward progress on some of the more challenging issues and also not so general that they are anodyne.