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.

How many people vote early? Or when 50% becomes 45% becomes 17%.

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There have been some breathless stories over the last few days that vastly overstate the number of Americans who are likely to cast an early ballot, in person or no-excuse absentee, in the next few weeks.

Kyle Inskeep of NBC News titled his Sept 21st story:  “Early Voting: Half of US Begins Voting Tomorrow.”

Michelle Franzen of MSNBC repeats the statement: “Early Voting Begins in Many States.”  The title on the video says “Early Voting Expands” except that early voting has not expanded substantially since 2008 and in at least three states (GA, FL, OH) has been somewhat restricted.  Details, details.

What’s the problem?  Inskeep is strictly accurate if, when you hear “half the nation” you think “25 of 50 states, not counting DC.”  But I think most of us think “half the nation” means half of the voting population. Just like the U.S. Senate, Inskeep counts Wyoming as “1” and California as “1” even though Wyoming’s population is only 1.5% of California’s.

44.8% lived in states that have started early and absentee voting as of September 22nd.  It’s a less sexy number than “half” but it’s the right one. Continue reading

Why don’t the Ohio early voting numbers line up? I don’t know!

I appreciate being the go-to person for early voting statistics and information, and I try to help reporters as best I can.  It can be hard, however, when a reporter challenges a piece of information that you gave them, which was drawn from official sources, with a number taken from a campaign.  I have no idea where campaigns get their figures.

The most recent set of inquiries come from Ohio. Someone in the Obama campaign believes that 28% of Ohioans voted in-person early or absentee.

The campaign may believe that, but the best information I have at my fingertips come from the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, the AP Elections Unit, and the EAC’s EAVS survey.  I show below why I discount the EAC information, so my best information is that approximately 30% of Ohioans cast an early ballot. Continue reading

#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.

The general election is here for early voters

Early in-person voting starts this week in Idaho and South Dakota!

Michael McDonald has already been tracking no-excuse absentee ballots in a number of states.

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:

A 7% signal to noise ratio is successful in Florida

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.