The most recent Election Dispatch from Pew highlights how election centers can actually result in higher costs, depending on the county and the availability of appropriate rental facilities.
I learned the same thing from Brian Newby of Johnson County, KS when he and I served on a post-election review commission in 2009.
Brian made it clear that proposals for vote centers would not work well in Johnson County. While it may surprise some from other regions, the problem in Johnson County was that there simply weren’t enough of the right kind of facilities, facilities that had reliable power and internet, could be secured every night, had easy access for voting machines and sufficient parking, were ADA compliant, and, perhaps most important of all, could be rented for a month at a reasonable rate.
Bob Stein and Greg Vonnahme have provided the scholarly grounding for vote centers, showing how they increase turnout and enhance voter convenience (ungated article here). But it’s less clear how much Bob’s results, based primarily in experiences in Colorado, might apply other jurisdictions with different population profiles, commuting patterns, and cost structures.
Karl Kurtz of The Thicket provides some additional information on legislative turnover rates in state houses.
Ok, I just couldn’t resist this story from the Fargo Forum, or the image above (courtesy of the Western Australia Office of Travel and Tourism), which sure looks like an old Holiday Inn sign!
Election officials have to find space where they can, and in some locations, facilities that are large, have parking, reliable (and sufficient) power, an internet connection, parking, are ADA compliant, and to top it off, can be rented for just a few weeks might be far and few between.
In Fargo, it looks like two local motels are just the kind of short term rental space that LEO’s need:
Early voting is available this week to all eligible Cass County voters at the following locations:
• 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., today through Friday at the Hilton Garden Inn & Suites, 4351 17th Ave S. in Fargo and at the Lodoen Kindergarten Center, 330 3rd Ave. E. in West Fargo.
• 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday through Friday at the Days Inn, 2050 Governors Drive in Casselton.
And Nathan’s hotel? Well, at least it’s “cleanish.”
In a recent editorial, the Oregonian asserted that more citizens are choosing to wait to turn in their ballots until Election Day. The piece claims that this behavior reveals a sort of synthesis of the pro- and anti-mail ballot arguments rolled into one: Election Day traditions are able to survive even while no one is forced to follow them.
This is a nice idea, and I have no doubt there are still quite a few citizens who vote on Election Day because that’s how their parents did it. But the data just does not support the claim that more citizens are suddenly beginning to realize the value (whether it be intrinsic—as the article asserts—or perhaps even utilitarian) of last-day voting.
Here is a graph showing the number of ballots casted on Election Day in Oregon elections from 2000-2010, as a percentage of total ballots submitted:
Percentage of Ballots Returned on Final Day of Voting
(Data found at: Oregon Secretary of State.)
Since 2000, the level of last-day voting has decreased a few times, but has regularly hovered around 25%. It is not that I think the Oregonian is plain wrong—I have no reason to doubt that a portion of the individuals voting on Election Day do so because their parents did the same—but these numbers do not reveal any sort of aggregate chance in behavior.
Notice much change? It is not that I think the Oregonian is utterly false—the 20-odd % that still chooses to vote on election day can make those decisions for whatever reason they want—but there is no trend in the last 10 years that seems to show Oregon citizens as changing their behavior in any aggregate way.
Now, the Oregonian may have a hunch about this new trend, but it will take additional research and evidence to convince me otherwise.
BTW – this post is not written by your regularly EVIC blogger, Paul. My name is Jacob Canter, and I’m the new RA for Paul. I’ll be adding to the blog every so often, hopefully providing something interesting to look at and think about. Feel free to ask questions and requests posts in the future.
I found absentee ballot counts in Dane County, WI but I don’t have the energy to search all the other townships and counties in the state. There are lots of reports of heavy absentee voting in the recall election, which could be a result of mobilization efforts, or could mean that Wisconsin voters have made up their minds, or both.
It would be nice if the Govt Accountability Board posted something on their website. The recall election page is here but there are no returns.
Candidate Support by Result Reports, Portland Mayors Race
(Graphic courtesy of Kari Chisholm, BlueOregon.com).
I have noted in the past that a substantial percentage of Oregon ballots are hand delivered by voters to county offices or satellite drop boxes on election day.
The state’s major paper, the Oregonian, seems to have finally taken note of this trend, likely because in the most recent mayoral contest, the first returns were based primarily on “by mail” ballots while the final returns included ballots dropped off on election day. The results were quite different. Early returns indicated that Charlie Hales was ahead by as many as 10 points over Jefferson Smith, while the final returns showed them apart by only 4.4% (37.2% to 32.9%).
There has been some local speculation about what this indicates about who supports Smith (young voters? late deciders?) and how his GOTV operation worked.
What’s interesting to me as a scholar of early voting, however, is what this shows about the voting by mail system. Observers who are less knowledgable about VBM describe the system as if every ballot came through the postal service, but election officials in Oregon, Washington, California, and other states know that a significant number of “by mail” voters still hold their ballot until the end and deliver it “in person” on election day.
I appreciated Doug Chapin’s posting about David Kimball (FULL professor now, folks) and Brady Baybeck’s paper titled “Size Matters in Election Administration“, presented at OSU Moritz School of Law’s “HAVA at 10” conference.
I’ll leave you to Doug’s posting for the nitty gritty, but I wanted to add an important thought for anyone who does comparative election study in the United States: because “size matters” so much in the U.S., a lot of other things matter as well, and it’s vital to take them all into account. It may be the case that large jurisdictions face different problems than small jurisdictions.
But it’s not enough to just show that large jurisdictions process, for example, 89% of the provisional ballots cast in the U.S., because large jurisdictions also 63% of the voters. It’s the difference between the two–89%-63%–that is the quantity of interest. Furthermore, it may not be “size” that matters, but other things that covary with size: number of lower income voters, number of Latino voters, or the number of mobile voters.
My first takeaway from Kimball and Baybeck was: excellent first take at the disparate situation faced by jurisdictions in the U.S.
And my second takeaway was: someone out there needs to connect the characteristics of LEO’s, jurisdictions, states, and citizens to really help disentangle these effects. This is a great next project for some enterprising graduate student at CalTech, MIT, University of Maryland, Ohio State, University of Minnesota, University of Utah, or University of Missouri-St Louis (to name a few of the usual suspects!).
As reported in today’ Helena Record.
I’m not clear whether or not this race is competitive for the GOP, but if any have a good chance to be the next SoS of Montana, I hope they will look closely at the empirical evidence on SDR/EDR, vote by mail, voter turnout and vote fraud.
There are good reasons to oppose voting my mail–it removes ballots from the hands of government officials, it lengthens the voting period, it increases voter error (overvotes and undervotes). While the amount of voter fraud is miniscule, it’s also the case that most notable cases of fraud are associated with absentee ballots. However, states with VBM have experienced almost no fraud, have very high voter turnout, and lots of citizen engagement in elections.
I can see no reason for the candidates to oppose same day registration, which has been consistently shown to be cost effective and consistently shows a substantial positive impact on voter turnout. There is no evidence of a partisan advantage to same day registration. All this information comes from the Nat’l Conference on State Legislatures, as about a non-partisan source on these matters as one would want: http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/same-day-registration.aspx
Volume 15, Issue 2 of the NYU Journal of Legislation and Public Policy has some interesting articles on Citizens United and election law. You can peruse the volume here: http://www.law.nyu.edu/journals/legislation/issues/Volume15Number2/index.htm
I just attended a panel with Laura Stephenson and Andre Blais, two of the primary investigators for the “Making Electoral Democracy Work” project on comparative campaigns, voting,and elections. There is an election administration component to their project, although the depth of research in that area is not yet clear.
This is a website and project to monitor for the future.