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
Nice story by Jeff Zeleny. Sorry I missed his phone call! I love Michael McDonald, but “studies early voting.” Um….
- 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?]
Michael McDonald and I have agreed on a hashtag: #earlyvote.
Set your twitter filters accordingly. Back to your regularly scheduled blog.
It’s early, but the first ballot return rates are coming in from North Carolina and some patterns are emerging.
- Of the 41,245 absentee ballot requests, 83% were from civilians, 8.7%were from the military, and 8% were from overseas voters.
- Civilian ballots that have been returned thus far have the highest acceptance rate (90.5% of the 1089 returned), compared to 87.4% of overseas ballots and 82.4% of military ballots.
- The main reasons for rejected ballots were cancellations, 6% of civilian and 10% of UOCAVA (there is no difference by status).
- However, already 6% of the military ballots have been returned as undeliverable, compared to only 1% of civilian ballots. This is based on an extremely small sample size–that 6% is based on just 10 returned ballots out of 165 total returned. Nonetheless, undeliverable military ballots have been a point of concern in the past.
More updates as I process this file. I think this is a great assignment for my Statistics class!