Sunday, May 22, 2005

Carter / Baker report has been commissioned!

Well, I finally scored a report with a national commission. The director of the Carter/Baker commission has asked me to write a report on early voting and ballot integrity in Oregon. I had a more ambitious project in mind, comparing the procedures used to maintain ballot integrity in 20 counties that have experienced rapid growth in absentee balloting in the past decade, but funding issues limits this for the time being.

The project at is stands is going to compare vote-by-mail procedures in three counties in Oregon, one urban (certainly Multnomah), one suburban (possibly Washington or Clackamas) and one rural, in an attempt to see if ballot administration issues vary by some broad county characteristics.

We also hope to collect information on undeliverable ballots (remember that all ballots arrive via USPS) and rejected signatures in all counties in Oregon. If we are able to collect this information, and attach it to county statistics, it provides further leverage on the question of ballot administration and county type.

So a lot of work to be completed in just three weeks!

No Excuse absentee balloting recommended in PA

Courtesy of Stephen Medvic's "On The Hustings" blog, the Pennsylvania Election Reform Task Force has recommended no-excuse absentee balloting in PA.

Postal Voting in the UK: Update

Courtesy of Rick Hasen, the BBS reports that the UK "Election watchdog" has come out against all postal voting.

It's important to realize that the Commission's report does not come out against postal voting as an alternative mode of ballot return, but argues that precinct voting must remain the "foundation" of the UK system.

There is also a nice set of recommendations for making sure that ballot integrity is maintained via postal voting. Do counties in the US allowing no-excuse absentee ballots follow the same set of protocols? It's not at all clear.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Oregon votes to limit "unofficial" ballot boxes

The Oregon House passed HR 3090 bill that would outlaw "unofficial" ballot boxes and otherwise increase ballot security (requiring ballot boxes to be locked down, to have official clerks always on duty, etc). Interestingly, the bill explicitly does not outlaw candidates from collecting ballots and delivering them for you.

Previously, it was not illegal in Oregon for non-candidate groups to go door to door and collect ballots or to set up "unofficial" ballot boxes (like the one shown below).

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Faculty hell month

Well I've been out of commission for a while, engaged in the Reed faculty version of hell. At the beginning of April, we receive copies student theses -- 50-100 page documents in a variety of states of completion (we only receive theses for which we are the advisor or first reader). According to norms, we are supposed to read and comment on these documents within a week, so that the students can produce the finished product by the end of April.

Then at the end of April, another stack of documents arrive. This time, *all* theses appear, not just advisor/first reader, but second and "outside." This year, it totalled about 1000 pages on my desk on April 29th, with hearings to begin May 2nd.

To top it off, I received an invitation to conduct research for the Carter/Baker commission. I've been struggling to come up with a research design that is sufficiently detailed for the commission but that can also be completed within 30 days.

Fun fun fun!

A new map

Here is a much improved (and almost complete!) map of early voting rates in 2004. (EDITED May 25th: Map now complete)

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