Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Turnout issues in Lousiana. Is early voting a cure?

I've seen some of the data that Louisiana is relying on, when they hope that early voting will increase turnout. It's based on a report issued by Curtis Gans after the 2004 election.

Problem is that Gans's study is incomplete--he only compares differences in turnout from 2000 and 2004 based on one difference: whether or not a state had early voting.

But as this paper, "Consequential Reforms or Innocuous Tinkering? Another Look at Efforts to Increase Turnout in American Elections," written by James T. Smith of Catholic University and John Comer
of University of Nebraska - Lincoln, shows, once you control for all the other reasons that turnout may be higher or lower relative to other states, there is no relationship between turnout and early voting.

To take just one example, the State of Oregon claims on its webpage that vote by mail increases turnout, because turnout in the first post vote by mail presidential election (2000) was higher than in 1996. Two problems. First, Oregon has always been a high turnout state. Second, 2000 was a hard fought election in which Oregon was a battleground state.

More evidence on this point is posted at the earlyvoting website: http://www.earlyvoting.net

2theadvocate.com: News


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