And now for a self-promotional moment ... Doug is right, data ARE good

Crossposted from the comments section at the Election Academy of the University of Minnesota:

Data definitely ARE beautiful, as is correct grammatical usage.

If officials are skeptical of the merit of the residual vote rate, one source that illustrates its merits is the “Residual Voting in Florida” report coauthored by me and Charles Stewart. Look in particular at pg. 55-56, which I humbly suggest is a perfect illustration of Doug’s point.

Using data from Florida, we identify the two highest residual vote rate precincts in the state–two precincts that are wholly contained within elder care facilities. We further show that the rate in the two precincts is completely driven by high error rates on absentee ballots.

We can’t diagnose the disease in full. It may be that elderly citizens are making more errors because they can’t ask for help from poll workers when completing the ballot. It may be that the text is printed too small, causing difficulties for citizens with vision impairment. Or perhaps the ballot itself is confusing in unexpected ways.

But at least now we know where to look.

The takeaway chart is here:

According to today’s news, 2625 citizens were incorrectly purged from Florida’s statewide voter registration system and were restored only after the state was sued by the Advancement Project.

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)).

“That’s really small!”
(Image courtesy of

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)

I have been reading the decision in State of Texas vs. Holder. I am no election lawyer, but Texas’s position at one point sounds a lot like it is trying to get the Supreme Court to rule Section 5 unconstitional. Continue reading

I haven’t read this paper yet, and I’m not going to be in NOLA due to Isaac, so I’ll let Dan Smith write for himself: Continue reading

A number of losing candidates in South Florida have raised accusations of absentee ballot fraud as the reason they lost the race.

Paul Crespo, candidate in District 105, has asked the state attorney to investigate what he claims are “irregularities” in the absentee voting process during the August 14 primary.

The losing candidate for property appraiser in Miami-Dade, incumbent Pedro Garcia, is also raising charges of fraud.

It’s absolutely critical that elections be run fairly and honestly, and that charges of fraud be investigated fully.  But it’s also regrettable that unsubstantiated claims of vote fraud have become part of the standard litany in American politics, undermining citizen confidence in the system.

Why am I skeptical about the cases above?

Continue reading

I applaud Secy of State John Husted’s decision in Ohio to set uniform times for early voting throughout the state of Ohio.

I disagree with the legislature’s decision to eliminate weekend early voting, which is utilized by many citizens who have less flexibility during the week.  Also, as shown by the National Conference of State Legislature’s absentee and early voting page and reflected in our early voting calendar, 11 early voting states are able to end early voting the Monday before election day, and 5 more end on the Saturday before.  12 states require at least one Saturday or Sunday opening and in other states, counties are given the flexibility to open on the weekends (we have no data on how many actually choose to do so).

Data that we have reported previously at EVIC shows that the number of early voters climbs day by day as election day approaches, most often peaking on the last day or two (typically the weekend before).  I recognize the challenges of preparing for election day when early voting has ended only a day or two before, as well as the budgetary constraints faced by many jurisdictions.  (This latter, however, should be offset by election day savings when 20-40% of votes have already been cast.)

Nonetheless, Secretary Husted, by all reports, took into due consideration the opinions of local election officials, the legislature, and competing political forces.  He threaded the needle superbly, and has rendered a fair and non-partisan decision.

He should be applauded for doing so, and setting a standard for expert, non-partisan election administration.