Monday, October 03, 2005

More on the EDS Report: How to count early voting

Thad Hall has alerted readers to the EDS powerpoint presentation, available at their website.

The Oregon data, while accurate insofar as the election day survey is concerned, is erroneous. It points out the complexities involved in collecting these sorts of data across jurisdictions that use different definitions and term and count things in very different ways.

(As Mike Alvarez pointed out previously, the EAC had issued an RFP that was supposed to help address these problems in data collection, but now they've withdrawn the RFP and are apparently going to wait until next fiscal year. This is unfortunate, given the scrutiny under which the 2008 election will be placed.)

Slides 21-23 of Kim Brace's presentation show the problem most clearly.

Oregon is reported as having 75-89.9% of voters "voting in a polling place on election day." Of course, no one actually votes in a polling place in Oregon. It's just that the language of the EAC survey, "3a. Total number of ballots cast in polling places (state-wide) on election day (for Oregon – by mail); 3b. Total number of ballots cast on election day by county/local election jurisdiction" ended up being reported by Oregon officials as all ballots."

(Why, by the way, isn't the number over 90% for Oregon--there aren't more than 10% of the ballots cast other than by the conventional "by mail" method.)

On the next slide, 0-9.9% of Oregon voters cast "absentee" ballots--these, by the way, are voters who cast ballots outside of the state (military, living abroad, etc). In Oregon election administration lingo, these are the "absentee" voters.

Final slide, #23, number of Oregon voters who voted "early." Reported as "no data." But as any reader of this blog knows, Oregon has some of the highest quality election data available, and anyone can find out precisely how many ballots were processed (although not cast) before election day.

The presentation is incredibly valuable. But collecting these data remains a real challenge, and one I hope the EAC is able to address soon.


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