Statement Regarding the MSNBC Map for Early Voting

October 23, 2008
Paul Gronke, Early Voting Information Center

MSNBC published on their website a map describing which states allow no-excuse early voting in the 2008 election cycle. The map was based on information obtained from the Early Voting Information Center (earlyvoting.net).

The information was collected to follow early voting in the 2008 primary. The chart clearly stated that the information had not been updated since February 2008. Some states have changed their laws since that time, and we have labored to keep up with a rapidly changing terrain of early voting.

In addition, we note clearly on the webpage that there are conflicting interpretations of what constitutes “early in person” and “absentee” voting. We use “early in person” voting to describe situations where a citizen shows up at an elections office or satellite location and votes in most respects like on election day–checking in with a government official, signing in on a poll book, and casting a ballot on a voting machine.

We use “absentee” voting to describe situations where citizens request an absentee ballot, which is usually delivered to them by mail, and then they return this ballot, most often by mail. Many states do not require an excuse in order to vote absentee (“no excuse”), while some states retain the requirement that a voter provide an excuse.

However, an increasing number of states allow citizens to show up in person at a local elections office, request an absentee ballot, and fill out the ballot right there. We have chosen to call this “early in person absentee balloting” but some states describe this as “early in person voting.” Obviously, EVIC cannot establish a set of definitions for all states.

This information used by MSNBC was used without prior consultation with EVIC and the included some information that was out of date. The information has been updated to the best of our abilities. We apologize for any misinterpretations that have been based on the map produced by MSNBC, although we played no part in the production of the map.

Finally, MSNBC included on their map only early in person voting. They ignored the columns that described “by mail” voting which is why WA and OR are mislabeled on the map.

Conny McCormack, formerly of the LA County elections office, reviewed Florida elections in two large counties (Hillsborough and Miami-Dade) during their fall primary. She warns of the high likelihood of long lines during early voting–a prediction that is coming all too true.

The first data from North Carolina show the trend that we’ve seen in many states across the country so far––soaring rates of early voting, across party lines. The graphs below show rates of “one-stop” (in-person early) voting in the state. I’ve included our graphs from 2004 for comparison.

On the first day alone, around twice the number of Republican and non-affiliated voters turned out compared to 2004, while Democrats showed a remarkable 400% increase on the earlier election. Looking at the cumulative returns, we can see that Democrats have cast nearly as many votes in the first five days as they did in the entire one-stop voting period in 2004.

Click any of the graphs for a larger image.

North Carolina > 2004 General > Daily Early In-Person Returns North Carolina > 2004 General > Cumulative Early In-Person Returns

Welcome to a preview of EVIC’s new and improved website. We know we’re a little late to the game––early voting is already well underway, as you know from the huge press coverage it is receiving.

All the same, we hope to use this website as a clearinghouse for some of the more important and notable early and absentee voting news over the next two to three weeks. In addition to some analysis of events, we’ll also be posting graphs of early voting (see our historical archive) ballot trends in major battleground states, data permitting.

You can still access all the information from our old site. Ultimately though, this new format will serve as the engine for EVIC’s new website in the Winter; consider this a soft launch!

This article is a brief overview of the place that election law scholarship can play in undergraduate education.

Gronke – 2012 – How and when to teach election law in the undergraduate classroom

Forms of convenience voting—early in-person voting, voting by mail, absentee voting, electronic voting, and voting by fax—have become the mode of choice for >30% of Americans in recent elections. Despite this, and although nearly every state in the United States has adopted at least one form of convenience voting, the academic re- search on these practices is unequally distributed across important questions. A great deal of literature on turnout is counterbalanced by a dearth of research on campaign effects, election costs, ballot quality, and the risk of fraud. This article introduces the theory of convenience voting, reviews the current literature, and suggests areas for future research.

Gronke, Galanes-Rosenbaum, Miller et al., – 2008 – Convenience Voting

Abstract:

Forms of convenience votingearly in-person voting, voting by mail, absentee voting, electronic voting, and voting by faxhave be- come the mode of choice for >30% of Americans in recent elections. Despite this, and although nearly every state in the United States has adopted at least one form of convenience voting, the academic re- search on these practices is unequally distributed across important questions. A great deal of literature on turnout is counterbalanced by a dearth of research on campaign effects, election costs, ballot quality, and the risk of fraud. This article introduces the theory of convenience voting, reviews the current literature, and suggests areas for future research.

Gronke – 2008 – Early Voting Reforms and American Elections

Gronke, Toffey – 2008 – The Psychological and Institutional Determinants of Early Voting

Abstract:

This article examines early voting, an institutional innovation whereby citizens can cast their ballots a time and location other than on election day and at the precinct place. Early voting has been proposed as way to expand the franchise, by making voting more convenient, and extend the franchise, by encouraging turnout among those segments of the population who are unable or unwilling to vote using traditional methods. The article draws on models of voter decision making that conceptualize voting as a choice reached under uncertainty. Voters vary by (a) their willingness to accept uncertainty, (b) their cognitive engagement with the campaign, and (c) their location in an institutional environment that makes early voting possible. We propose a multivariate model of early voting, contingent on a voter’s prior levels of political information, level of fixed political beliefs, and political information activity. These are also interacted with the institutional context (laws and procedures that allow early voting). At the descriptive level, we find most of the expected demographic and attitudinal patterns: early voters are older, better educated, and more cognitively engaged in the campaign and in politics. Because national surveys are ill equipped to capture nuanced campaign dynamics, many of the statistically significant relationships disappear in multi- variate analyses. Regardless, revealing differences emerge between midterm and presidential election years that allow us to make important inferences about the demographic and participatory characteristics of early voters.