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 Macrumors.com)

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.

DC Circuit Court has read Robert Caro

I have been reading the decision in State of Texas vs. Holder. I am no election lawyer, but Texas’s position at one point sounds a lot like it is trying to get the Supreme Court to rule Section 5 unconstitional. Continue reading

New research by Herron and Smith on voter registration changes in Florida

I haven’t read this paper yet, and I’m not going to be in NOLA due to Isaac, so I’ll let Dan Smith write for himself: Continue reading

Absentee ballot fraud in Miami-Dade? A little data goes a long way to dispel concerns

A number of losing candidates in South Florida have raised accusations of absentee ballot fraud as the reason they lost the race.

Paul Crespo, candidate in District 105, has asked the state attorney to investigate what he claims are “irregularities” in the absentee voting process during the August 14 primary.

The losing candidate for property appraiser in Miami-Dade, incumbent Pedro Garcia, is also raising charges of fraud.

It’s absolutely critical that elections be run fairly and honestly, and that charges of fraud be investigated fully.  But it’s also regrettable that unsubstantiated claims of vote fraud have become part of the standard litany in American politics, undermining citizen confidence in the system.

Why am I skeptical about the cases above?

Continue reading

Kudos to Sec’y of State John Husted

I applaud Secy of State John Husted’s decision in Ohio to set uniform times for early voting throughout the state of Ohio.

I disagree with the legislature’s decision to eliminate weekend early voting, which is utilized by many citizens who have less flexibility during the week.  Also, as shown by the National Conference of State Legislature’s absentee and early voting page and reflected in our early voting calendar, 11 early voting states are able to end early voting the Monday before election day, and 5 more end on the Saturday before.  12 states require at least one Saturday or Sunday opening and in other states, counties are given the flexibility to open on the weekends (we have no data on how many actually choose to do so).

Data that we have reported previously at EVIC shows that the number of early voters climbs day by day as election day approaches, most often peaking on the last day or two (typically the weekend before).  I recognize the challenges of preparing for election day when early voting has ended only a day or two before, as well as the budgetary constraints faced by many jurisdictions.  (This latter, however, should be offset by election day savings when 20-40% of votes have already been cast.)

Nonetheless, Secretary Husted, by all reports, took into due consideration the opinions of local election officials, the legislature, and competing political forces.  He threaded the needle superbly, and has rendered a fair and non-partisan decision.

He should be applauded for doing so, and setting a standard for expert, non-partisan election administration.

Early Voting Calendar for the 2012 General Election Early Voting Calendar for the 2012 General Election

At last, we have completed our early voting calendar for the 2012 general election. We have early and absentee voting information on all 50 states (including DC). If you would prefer to see the early voting information in spreadsheet format, here is a link to our working file.

A few notes on the calendar. First, all the information was confirmed by contacting the individual Secretary of State Offices. Second, there are at the moment still a few glitches when trying to save a PDF or print a copy of the calendar on a Mac computer, but that should be sorted out soon. Finally, any questions regarding the information on the calendar can be addressed through comments on the blog or by contacting EVIC via email.

We’d like to thank James Hicks for designing and programming the calendar for EVIC.

______ UPDATE:

It became clear yesterday that the early voting information spreadsheet was a useful tool for many to use along with the early voting calendar. Thus, we wanted to clean the spreadsheet up a bit more, to make sure it is clear to all interested parties. The old spreadsheet had internal notes from previous years that are unrelated to the current information.

The cleaner spreadsheet can be found here. Once again, the early voting calendar can be found here.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions about the content.


When do states typically end early voting?

Image courtesy of vote.utah.gov

Tomorrow, a hearing in Ohio may determine whether or not voters can cast early ballots in the three days preceding the November election.

The current situation is in flux, with apparently non-uniform hours not only for military and non-military voters, but also across counties.  I can see why Sec’y of State Husted is considering issuing a directive to standardize hours statewide and avoid a presidential election year controversy.

Nationwide, the period of early voting varies widely, particularly when you consider early in-person voting separately from by-mail absentee balloting. We have been collecting these periods nationwide for a number of years, and this year’s calendar (not in pretty graphic form yet) is provided here.

For absentee voting, many states have moved to a 45 day period, standardizing among UOCAVA and domestic ballots (exactly the opposite of what has happened in Ohio). The start of early in-person voting (depending on how you define it) is as early as September 21st and as late as October 27th.1

Two other interesting points regarding the Ohio situation. First, the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) surveys have shown that tracking UOCAVA voters is a error-prone process; a member of the military may not self-identify as a UOCAVA voter and could simply choose to vote like any other resident. How can Ohio possibly discriminate among the “known” UOCAVA voters and the “unknown” UOCAVA voters?

Second, just for context, the National Conference on State Legislatures reports that

Early voting typically ends just a few days before Election Day: on the Thursday before the election in three states, the Friday before in nine states, the Saturday before in five states, and the Monday before Election Day in 11 states.

Ending early voting on Friday puts Ohio in the lower half of states, but they are not alone in making that choice.

1 South Dakota, listed first in our early voting calendar, “shies away from using the term early in-person voting,” in our interview with the Secretary of States’s office. They do allow citizens to show up at county offices, request, and cast an absentee ballot all at once. Thus, we code this as early in-person voting, even though it is used by far less voters than the system in place in, say, Florida.

Keith Poole has gone commercial!

I have begun to rely on the Vote View website as a basic tool for my undergraduate students.  It’s a wonderful way to gain insights into current and historical politics in the U.S., and it’s just a lot of fun.

VoteView has gone mainstream–it was cited on Rachel Maddow and I regularly see references among the smarter commentators on American economics and politics.

This, however, is going a bit too far!  http://www.polarizedpolitics.com/#!polarized-politics/mainPage.

(I think Keith is actually not associated with this site, but who knows?)