Powerful blog posting by Michelle Michelson about the controversial political science field experiment that sent voter information cards to Montana voters.  She makes some extremely effective points that anyone interested in conducting field experiments should pay attention to.

Measure 90 and Trends in Party Registration in Oregon.  How long until Unaffiliated is the largest "Party"?

I just generated some comparative statistics on party registration in Oregon that may be pertinent to voters thinking about Measure 90, the Top Two Primary.

The numbers are pretty amazing.  Registration in the state is about even with 2012–itself an important metric of a growing state.

You can compare county by county to see where population growth is concentrated–Benton, Clackamas, Crook, Deschutes, Jackson, Jefferson, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, and Yamhill are the only counties that have more registrants than in 2012–while other growing counties like Washington and Benton are barely in the negative.  Typically, voter registration falls in off year elections.

However, what is even more fascinating is the pattern in party and non-party affiliation.  Unaffiliated registrants are the only category growing among the three major categories (other parties, such as the Independent party, are seeing growth as well).

Some of the totals are stunning–Unaffiliated registrants up 9.06% in Benton, 7.98% in Clackamas, 12.42% in Deschutes, 11.6% in Jackson, 11.28% in Marion, 10.10% in Multnomah, 9.17% in Washington, and 9.74% in Yamhill.

Meanwhile, Democratic and Republican registration is down between 5% and 8% in most of these counties.  Whatever we do about our primaries, we cannot continue to shut out the largest segment of registered voters.

Change_In_Registration_by_County

 

Paul Gronke is interviewed by Pam Fessler in this story: http://www.npr.org/2014/10/22/358108606/want-your-absentee-vote-to-count-dont-make-these-mistakes

Ballot Bungles: Lessons from the Australian Senate

Michael Douglas

Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy, Fast Track Articles

Abstract | Full Text HTML | Full Text PDF (200 KB) | Full Text PDF with Links (201 KB)

Anticipating North Carolina's Early Vote

In North Carolina, voters must decide whether to replace democratic senator Kay Hagan with her republican opponent, Thom Tillis. Hagan, who was elected in 2008 with 53% of the vote, once again faces a difficult challenge. Per an October 11th SurveyUSA poll, Hagan leads by just three points, and 538 reports that only one poll has ever had her ahead of Tillis by more than six points. Some consider this one of the most competitive races in 2014, and it’s in one of the nation’s most purple states. In such a close race, every vote counts.

On top of that, the state’s legislature has made significant (and restrictive) changes to North Carolina’s election law, and we’ll want to know how these changes (which it now appears will remain in effect for the current election) affect turnout as we anticipate a possible Supreme Court hearing and decision.

We can better understand both the current Senate race and the new election legislation if we look at early and by-mail absentee voting in North Carolina. Not only does the state have an active “one-stop” (early) and by-mail voting electorate, the new legislation affects (among many other changes) early voting (by cutting a week off the early voting period and codifying early voting hours) and the ability for traditionally democratic voters (young and minority voters) to turnout (by, to name just two examples, eliminating same day voter registration and paid voter registration drives).

These facts about the NC election landscape mean that if we compare early and absentee voting numbers from the past to the 2014 numbers as they become available, we can anticipate in real-time whether Hagan should be worried about her chances of success, and whether the consequences of the new legislation are as restrictive as some suspect. Early voting in NC begins on October 23rd, and while absentee by-mail began on September 5th, there are still too few returned ballots to draw conclusions from the returns.

Over the next few days, I’ll point out a few trends that we should keep our eyes on. Unless otherwise noted, my data comes from the North Carolina State Board of Elections’ website. Continue reading

The NC legal case continues, even as the election approaches.  The legal wrangling has to stop and the voting has to start at some point.

I have gotten onto the email distribution list of Election Oregon, a group that appears to be a spin off of True the Vote.

The more citizens that learn about the election process in this state the better, but I can’t imagine a more tedious election observation activity than watching a drop box in Oregon (follow this link to see all the individual drop boxes in the state)!

Here’s the plan:

We need individuals posted at each drop box on the last two days of the Election to follow every last ballot directly to your county’s Election office. We need people to volunteer in teams one to drive one to video record the entire journey. I would be happy to act as dispatcher on Election night. Only catching these vote fixer in the act with a video record will make our case.

The problem lies in the trajectory of the vote by mail ballot in this state.  Once a ballot is completed by an individual and dropped at a drop box, it follows this path:

  1. The sealed drop box is transported, generally at 8 pm on election day, sometimes earlier (and then replaced) in popular locations, by an employee from the county office.
  2. The box is  inspected and opened in a secure location at the county elections office.
  3. The ballots are marked and begin to be processed.
  4. Signatures are inspected and validated.
  5. Ballots are separated from the security envelopes and are inspected for stray marks.
  6. Voter intention, if in question, is determined and ballot remarking may occur.
  7. Ballots are scanned and tallied.

It is simply difficult to know at what point “vote fixing” could possibly occur once ballots are dropped in the box.

Most election experts agree that the points of vulnerability in voting by mail system occur when the ballots leave the hands of government officials–after they are mailed and before they are returned.

I’ve done some election observation myself, and it’s never exciting.  But spending all day videotaping a plastic box at a library even makes me feel sleepy!

 

The text of the NC decision is here:

http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/141845.P.pdf

Link obtained via the “Scout” system of the Sunlight Foundation.

Partisan breakdown of the non-citizen vote, from Richman, Chattha, and Earnest (2014), courtesy of Elsevier Publications

A new paper by Jesse Richman, Gulsham Chattha, and David Earnest, available on first release in Electoral Studies, makes the controversial claim that:

We find that there is reason to believe non-citizen voting changed one state’s Electoral College votes in 2008, delivering North Carolina to Obama, and that non-citizen votes have also led to Democratic victories in congressional races including a critical 2008 Senate race that delivered for Democrats a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority in the Senate…

The authors follow a creative strategy by leveraging the large sample sizes in the Cooperative Congressional Election Study  in 2008 and 2010, and vote validation that occurred in 2008, to show that somewhere between 3.3%-25.1% of non-citizens were registered, and 1.5%-11.3% of non-citizens turned out to vote.

Extrapolated to the general population, they estimate anywhere from 38,000 to 2.8 million ballots were cast by non-citizens, and the bulk of these were Democratic votes (see figure above, reproduced from the paper).

The study is the first careful look at non-citizen voting that takes advantage of vote validation, and is almost certainly going to enter into the debate over photo ID.

 

Great article by Rick Hasen in Slate: The Voting Wars Heat Up.

Rick does a wonderful job highlighting how law and politics intersect in this arena

For a nice illustration of the conflict, see these articles by two dear friends, Ned Foley and Dan Tokaji.  Ned and Dan are right down the hall from one another.  Both are smart and reasonable, but on the issue of early voting in Ohio and undue burdens, they come down on different sides.

One thing is for sure–classes and seminars on election law at the Moritz College of Law must be interesting affairs!

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