Reflections on Election Observation in Ukraine featured in electionline.org

My comments about my time spent as an election observer in Ukraine are featured in this week’d electionline.org newsletter:

‘Don’t go, just don’t go.’
‘You realize you just spent a week’s wages on that souvenir?’

By Paul Gronke
Reed College

Those two quotations — the first from a concerned coworker before I left and the second from my translator at the end of the mission — reflect much of my experience as an election observer for the OSCE/ODHIR mission to Ukrainian presidential election on May 25, 2014.

The mission to Ukraine was my third time as an election observer for ODIHR. Previously, I’ve served as an observer for the Albanian parliamentary election in June 2013 and the Kyrgyz presidential election in October 2011.

While many of my friends and colleagues were intrigued by the trip to Kyrgyzstan, and a bit jealous of my mid summer trip to Albania, the Ukrainian mission — for obvious reasons — prompted the most interest and concern. ….

To read the rest, go to this week’s electionline.org newsletter.

Election Day in Ukraine: First Impressions

Election Day in Ukraine: First Impressions

Untitled 2It has been a peaceful morning of balloting in Kherson, Ukraine.  I am here monitoring elections as part of an international mission.  I’ve met hundreds of other observers from the United States, Canada, Germany, and many other countries.  All are hard working and dedicated individuals who are interested in helping to cement democratic development in the country.

Kherson is in the south of the country, and is best known as the dying place of John Howard, famous British prison reformer. (I haven’t visited the pub named after Howard just yet.)

 

 

 

20140525_121400

 

Because Kherson is located just west of Crimea and has more than 50% of the population who report Russian as their native language, you’d think that this region would be tense.  We had to sit through extra security briefings before we were deployed to the area.

But the two words that would describe the election thus far are busy and calm.  The election is busy because the lines are long and voter interest is high.  These lines aren’t helped by the economic crisis in the country which has resulted in understaffed polling places and too few voting booths. Things aren’t so different in the United States!

Nonetheless, voters seem to be in good spirits, perhaps helped by the beautiful, warm, sunny summer Sunday, and generally calm–except when they’ve had to wait for an hour to vote!

I hope for a free and fair outcome, one that may help the country move forward.  I’m sure everyone here hopes for the same.

EVIC research in Presidential Commission on Election Administration

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration, also known as the Bauer-Ginsberg Commission, has issued its final report.  Rick Hasen, waking and working before all of us, has already provided a great summary of findings and recommendations.  I’m particularly excited to see the Election Toolkit produced by the Voting Information Project.

I testified before the Commission in Denver, accompanied by Jacob Canter (exp. ’14).  Our work last summer was partially supported by the Alta S. Corbett Summer Research Program of Reed College.

Congratulations to Nate, Charles, Tammy, Ann, Chris, Ben, Bob, Trey, and all the commission members and staff!

Webcast from EAC Post Election Panel

I appeared along with a number of poll workers, local election officials, advocates, and academics at a full day post-election meeting organized by the Election Assistance Commission.

You can watch the full day webcast here.  Each segment is 90 minutes long and it’s pretty easy to pick and choose according to your interest.

A Rising Democratic Tide in North Carolina?

A Rising Democratic Tide in North Carolina?

There are 720,694 early in-person ballots processed by the State Board of Elections in NC as of this morning.  We finally have enough leverage–and enough days–to compare the turnout rates and trajectory to previous elections.

Signs of a rising Democratic tide, at least in this one state, appear to be accurate.  The gap between the 2008 rate and the 2012 rate widened for the first three days of early in person voting and has held steady since then.  The GOP, by comparison, is not doing much better in 2012 than they did (as a proportion of identifiers) in 2008.

We’ll be updating these graphics every few days as early voting continues.

Data from NC Board of Elections Website

NPR Early Voting Calendar

Got to give NPR props on this Early Voting Calendar.  It’s not as neat and precise as ours, but it looks really good.

#earlyvote is the winner!

Michael McDonald and I have agreed on a hashtag: #earlyvote.

Set your twitter filters accordingly.  Back to your regularly scheduled blog.

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

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:

The “Voting Wars” coming to Portland

Rick Hasen of the University of California, Irvine School of Law has agreed to be the Reed College Parent/Family speaker for 2012.

Rick is one of the nation’s leading legal experts in election law, including campaign finance, voting technology, and voting rights. His new book, The Voting Wars, has already garnered a lot of press coverage. Rick is known to many through the Election Law blog, a daily update of election law news and commentary.

To top it off, Rick is a dear friend, and is unfailingly warm and collegial. This should be a fun and provocative event.

(Crossposted to Earlyvoting.net)

Featuring WPMU Bloglist Widget by YD WordPress Developer