#electionsciences2017 starting this week! #electionsciences2017 starting this week!

The first Election Sciences, Reform, and Administration Conference is happening this week in Portland, OR!

I’d like to thank Phil Keisling and Paul Manson of the Center for Public Service at Portland State University for helping to organize, and the Reed College Department of Political Science, the MIT Election Data and Science Lab, the National Science Foundation, and the Elections Team at the Democracy Fund for making this event possible.

Follow the link above, or point your browser to electionsciences.net for more information.

Ranked Choice Voting Package Available on CRAN

This announcement from Jay Lee, Matthew Yancheff, and Mia Leung, three Reed students who were in the Data and Election Sciences course that I taught along with Prof. Andrew Bray this spring.  They have released the results of their work to CRAN.

Thanks to Rob Richie and Theo Landsman of FairVote for helping push this forward.


Just wanted to let you know that the first version of our RCV package is now submitted to CRAN, the R package archive! Going forward we’ll be updating this work, so if you have any comments or bug fixes please feel free to submit a pull request or issue to our GitHub repository, or just email us directly.
I’ve included a few lines of code at the bottom of this email to install the package locally and go through an example election (San Francisco Board of Supervisors, District 7). You’ll need at least version 3.3 of R installed to run these. If you don’t have this installed and don’t want to, some of the examples are available at our GitHub repo (scroll down to the README).
Again, thank you so much for your interest in our work and any help you’ve given us in regards to this project. We look forward to hearing any comments or critiques you might have on your experience using our package.
Thank you,
Jay Lee
Reed College
sf_cleaned <- clean_ballot(ballot = sf_bos_ballot, b_header = T, 
                        lookup = sf_bos_lookup, l_header = T, 
                        format = "WinEDS")
results7 <- rcv_tally(sf_cleaned, "Board of Supervisors, District 7")

The results table for this election is stored in the `results7` object. It can be printed in the console with the first line of code provided below, or viewed in the RStudio window with the second line:
We also have a functionality for producing an interactive type of flowchart called a Sankey diagram. This is done with the networkD3 package, which you must install separately to produce the visualization. The code for that is again provided here, but if you don’t want to install it we have an example on our GitHub repo.
d3_7 <- rcv::make_d3list(results = results7)
networkD3::sankeyNetwork(Links = d3_7$values, Nodes = d3_7$names,
                         Source = "source", Target = "target",
                         Value = "value", NodeID = "candidate", units = "voters",
                         fontSize = 12, nodeWidth = 20)
New report on Oregon’s Automatic Voter Registration System

I’ll let the OPB story speak for itself, since I was one of the co-authors of the report. 

Call for Papers: Summer Conference on Election Science, Reform, and Administration

Paper proposals are being invited for a Summer Conference on Election Science, Reform, and Administration, hosted by Reed College and Portland State University, and co-sponsored by the Early Voting Information Center at Reed College and the Election Data and Science Lab at MIT. The conference will be held in Portland, OR from July 27-28, 2017.  

The goals of the conference are, first, to provide a forum for scholars in political science, public administration, law, computer science, statistics, and other fields who are working to develop rigorous empirical approaches to the study of how laws and administrative procedures affect the quality of elections in the United States; and, second, to build scientific capacity by identifying major questions in the field, fostering collaboration, and connecting senior and junior scholars.

The conference is designed to facilitate close attention to the papers presented, including extensive feedback and discussion. Therefore, papers should represent new work, with early drafts of papers encouraged.

We hope that a wide variety of topics will be addressed at the conference. We are particularly interested in new and innovative projects that address long standing questions about the impact of election reforms on registration and turnout at both the state and federal level; how the voter experience has improved or eroded during the two recent waves of election reform; and the research design and methodological challenges in election science. The following is a list provides a few sample ideas, but should not be considered exhaustive:  

  • How new or changed election laws affect the size and makeup of the pool of registered voters and the federal, state, and/or local electorates;
  • Professionalization (or the lack thereof) and the quality of election administration;
  • Evaluating the impact of voting centers, consolidated precincts, and convenience voting;
  • How election reform has differentially impacted historically disadvantaged segments of the electorate;
  • The analytical and methodological tools needed to work with voter registration and voter history files, and challenges in making causal inferences when working with these files;
  • New methods for connecting other behavioral records (e.g. survey data) or geospatial data with voter history and voter turnout data

Airfare, lodging, and conference meals will be covered for paper presenters and discussants. Other scholars are welcome to attend if they can cover conference costs (details to be announced within a month).

Lonna Atkeson, University of New Mexico, and Bernard Fraga, Indiana University, will serve as program co-chairs, and Paul Gronke, Reed College and Phil Keisling, Center for Public Service at PSU, will act as conference organizers and hosts.

Paper proposals of no more than 250 words should be submitted by April 15, 2017.  Submit proposals at http://bit.ly/PDXelection – we expect to announce decisions by May 1.  Any questions can be sent to atkeson@umn.edu, bfraga@indiana.edu, or gronke@reed.edu.

Scholars wishing to attend without presenting a paper should also contact Emily Hebbron (hebbron@reed.edu) by May 1st.  Further details about the conference will posted on the conference Web site soon thereafter.

Please feel free to re-distribute this announcement to relevant individuals and e-mail lists. We look forward to reading your paper proposals!

Yours sincerely,

Lonna Atkeson, Bernard Fraga, and Paul Gronke

Upcoming: Election Scientists Look at Oregon Motor Voter

Over the next few weeks, I hope to be featuring on this blog postings from students who are in a new course being offered at Reed College: Data Sciences / Election Sciences.

The course is a collaborative effort with Andrew Bray, a statistics professor at Reed College, and is partially supported by a Student Digital Research grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation (more information about the grant and the projects it has supported at Reed is contained at this website.) 

What better question to have these young scientists answer than the impact of Oregon’s innovative automatic registration system, aptly named “Oregon Motor Voter”?  We hope to go beyond the reports provided by the Oregon Secretary of State  to understand not just who is being registered via OMV, but who votes as a result of the law, and how the electorate has changed, and may change in the future, as a consequence of this reform. 

Step one is going to be a set of pretty data visualizations to whet the appetite. Expect more very soon! 

2016 Early Voting Calendar is up and running

Yes, late, yes, spreadsheet not yet in public release, yes, I get it.  This is a fast and furious election!

EVIC’s 2016 Early Voting Calendar is up and running.  As with past year’s, the calendar provides easy visual displays of balloting periods for all early votes (no-excuse absentee and early in-person) as well as visualizations for each mode of balloting.

We partnered with Vote.org this year to coordinate some of our data collection, but we are responsible for everything published on the site.  Our focus is more on the time period for early voting, and less on the mechanisms by which an individual citizen requests and receives an early ballot.  Head on over to vote.org for that information.

One unique element in our calendar is that we have attempted to collect information on when no-excuse ballots are actually mailed.  In some cases, that’s required us to contact elections offices directly, and sometimes the answer has been “as soon as they are printed.”  We try to represent that timeline as best as possible.

I’m sure there are some miscodes and glitches still in the spreadsheet.  We’ll fix these as rapidly as we hear about them.

New issue of Election Law Journal is out: Aliens and Voter ID, Forum on Bruce Cain’s new book on election reform, and more.


Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy

Volume: 13, Number: 4, December 2014

View this Issue Online