New electionline highlights the challenges election administrators face after legal decisions

Recent legal decisions in Wisconsin, Maryland, Ohio, Alaska, and other states have left election administrators scrambling as election deadlines approach–or are already well past due!

More in this week’s electionline weekly.

NC Court rules against plaintiffs in Section 2 case

Rick Hasen reports on his blog. Follow to find links to the decision and other materials.

Why we should retain postmark deadlines on vote by mail ballots

… more importantly, the “postmark” rule elevates the individual interest in having their ballot count above the collective interest in determining the outcome of an election fairly and efficiently.

The individual franchise is important because it helps to assure that political leaders are responsive to the public and lends legitimacy to the actions of political leaders.

We should work to assure that every Oregonian and every American has ready access to the ballot. This is why Oregon adopted vote by mail and is why many states have moved to hybrid election systems, with election-day, vote-by-mail, and early in-person balloting. We should work to develop new technologies that may allow for Internet voting in the future.

But we should also try to make sure that elections are decided quickly, without unnecessary delay. If this requires voters to remember to mail a ballot three days before the election or deliver it by hand to one of many ballot drop-box locations, this is a reasonable compromise.

The rest is here:

NCSL Election Administration Research Database

Hat tip to Doug Chapin:

NCSL Election Administration Research Database will be an invaluable tool for scholars, advocates, and others interested in studying and improving election administration.  Here’s hoping this kicks the field forward!



Election Day Deadline Avoids Postmark Hassles

Doug Chapin notes that postmarks are not consistently applied. Shocking!

I think the policy solution here is pretty simple:i f you have an election day deadline for all ballots, then the postmark is not important.


Who gets to review elections in Louisiana?

A piece of legislation in the state of Louisiana came across the transom, courtesy of the Sunlight Foundation’s Scout service, that “provides for a “study of voting technology, processes, and procedures.”

It’s fairly standard stuff, but what I found interesting is this part of the list of proposed committee members:

(11) One member appointed by the governor from a list of nominees submitted by the presidents of Centenary College of Louisiana, Dillard University, Louisiana College, Loyola University New Orleans, Tulane University, and Xavier University of Louisiana,each of whom shall submit one nominee who shall not be an elected or appointed public official.

My friend and colleague Chris Mann is now at LSU and is nationally known expert on voting technology, and I bet there are a few other Tigers well-positioned to help such a committee.

Geaux Tigers?

Research on perceptions of voting fraud

Nice new article by Emily Beaulieu, “From Voter ID to Party ID: How Political Parties Affect Perceptions of Election Fraud in the U.S.”
in Electoral Studies (currently available in early access but this may be gated for some).

Here’s the abstract

This paper uses a survey experiment to assess what individuals understand about election fraud and under what circumstances they see it as a problem. I argue that political parties are central to answering both these questions. Results from the 2011 CCES survey suggest respondents are able to differentiate between the relative incentives of Democrats and Republicans where fraud tactics are concerned, but whether voters see these tactics as problematic is heavily influenced by partisan bias. The results show little support for the notion that partisan ideology drives fraud assessments, and suggest support for the idea that individual concerns for fraud are shaped a desire for their preferred candidate to win. These results offer insights that might be applied more broadly to questions of perceptions of electoral integrity and procedural fairness in democracies.

The changing vote by mail electorate in California The changing vote by mail electorate in California
Courtesy of California Civic Education Project (

Courtesy of California Civic Education Project (

Courtesy of Los Angeles County Clerk/Recorder Dean Logan’s twitter feed, researchers at the University of California, Davis’s California Civic Engagement Project has released a fascinating analysis of vote by mail usage in the Golden State.

Some of the patterns are not surprising to anyone who has followed vote by mail for a while: by-mail voters tend to be older and white and Asian.  The report pays particularly close attention to lower Hispanic usage rates of VBM, but I’m a bit disappointed that there is no report of African American usage, which Charles Stewart and I have shown has grown enormously in Florida and other southeastern states.

Party differences are, as always, complex.  A greater proportion of Republican affiliators use vote by mail, but because Democrats hold such an enormous registration advantage in the state, a larger proportion of the vote by mail electorate overall is Democratic (43%) vs. Republican (33%) and No Party preference (18%).

Nate Persily is in the cage

Nice posting by Nate Persily on Monkey Cage:

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!