The National Vote at Home Institute has brought together a “powerful, diverse, bipartisan and non-partisan group of election reformers… to strengthen American democracy”.
Vote at Home announced that Paul Gronke, EVIC Founder and Director, will now serve on their Circle of Advisors. Gronke reacts to the news:
Proud to be a member of the Circle of Advisors for the National Vote At Home Institute. The set of advisors includes many experienced election administrators, elected officials, and advocates. I’m pleased that EVIC’s record as a non-partisan purveyor of research, data, and information on non-precinct place voting, including of course vote at home, can contribute the the Institute.
The announcement from Vote at Home including a full list of members and the newly announced directors can be found here.
For more information about Vote at Home, check out their webpage here.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has a new mantra for California voters: “no stamp, no problem.”
That’s great for equity and voter access, but it will be fascinating to see how this changes voter behavior. In California, voters may choose to return ballots to a local precinct place or the county office, in addition to using the mail. How many will continue to use these options when postage is provided? It will be interesting to see how many do so in the next few election cycles, and how this alters ballot processing across the state.
Today’s electionline story describes 25 houses in Hamden, CT that have been incorrectly assigned to election districts since the last redistricting cycle in 2011, and have been the wrong ballots. There are charges that voters have been “disenfranchised” though it’s unclear whether the ballots were counted for the “wrong” race, or only some races were counted.
The process obviously needs to be investigated, and Secretary of State Denise Merrill is calling not just for a detailed investigation of Hamden’s procedures, but a statewide audit when it became clear that there were additional districting errors, including candidates who were elected in districts where they were not residents.
There are a lot of moving parts here and a quick scan of the various stories show an early tendency on the part of journalists to move quickly to use a partisan lens. It appears to be more an accident of unfortunate events that a Democratic registrar in Hamden has been on medical leave during the election, leaving a single person in charge, who happened to be a Republican, and the district was won by a Republican in a relatively close race (though one where the winning margin of 77 votes exceeded the number of voters who were misassigned).
While we will all need to wait to see the outcome of the audit, election scientists have been aware of this mis-mapping problem for a while because of a series of presentations that Dr. Michael McDonald and Dr. Brian Amos have given at our recent conferences. McDonald and Amos show that mis-assignments are seldom intentional, and most often result from out of date shape files (the geo-spatial files that are used to assign geolocations to larger geographical entities, such as election precincts and districts) and mis-alignments between “street files” (the lists that jurisdictions use to match street addresses to precincts / districts) and the actual geographic boundaries of the district.
I urge interested readers to follow this link to learn more about the great work being done by McDonald and Amos, and how their technology can help to improve election accuracy.
Thanks to Paul Manson and the students in Political Science 377 who worked with me on the graphic.
While different data sources come up with slightly different estimates, the Current Population Survey’s Voting and Registration Supplement shows that the level of early voting has tripled since 1998 in midterm elections, and has gone up two and half times in presidential years.
If the levels this year are 30% or higher, it will be the most in any midterm. It’s unlikely that this year’s early voting rate will hit the 2016 level of 39%, but it’s possible that we might approach it.