Tuesday, June 21, 2005

June update

Things have been slow here as I've completed our report to the Carter/Baker commission. It has been something of a learning experience for me as I navigate between producing peer review quality research on an extremely short time frame (three weeks) and then distill it into five pages appropriate for a diverse panel.


I hope to be able to post more details soon, but to summarize:

1) We attempted to collect very basic information on election administration (the number of undeliverable ballots, the number of overvotes, the number of signature challenges) from each of 30 Oregon counties.

2) The number of signature challanges (a perceived weak point in Oregon's vote by mail system) is actually very low. The number of undeliverable ballots is relatively high, as you'd expect in a state experiencing high levels of inmigration and mobility.

3) What most surprised us is how many ballots are returned via non-sanctioned methods. In Oregon, candidate organizations can send volunteers to pick up your ballot and GOTV groups can set up "ballot boxes" to collect your ballots, with the promise (I suppose) that they'll be properly delivered. This portion of the system must be tightened up.

4) As many election reform researchers have already found out, the diversity in the quality of election administration is truly amazing. Some counties gave us the information in a few minutes and for little or no cost, while others wanted to charge us nearly $500 for data that they are obligated to collect by state law.


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