Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Missorui state legislator's "survey" claims early voting more expensive, not supported by respondents

A state legislator in Missouri, Steve Tilley (R-Perryville), says that the results of a constituent survey shows 76% were opposed to implementing no-excuse absentee voting.

Representative Tilley, who also serves as Republican whip, sent out the survey to 7000 households with at least one registered voter. 10% of the surveys were returned to Tilley's office.

The wording of the item in question is not very problematic. From Tilley's press release:

During the 2004 Presidential election, we watched on television as residents of some states went to the polls days and weeks before election day. In Missouri, voters can cast an absentee ballot up to six weeks before election day if they meet certain criteria such as being out of town on election day, confinement due to a sickness or disability, or because of religious beliefs. A legislative committee is studying the feasibility of implementing early voting or "no excuse" absentee voting in Missouri. According to a report compiled by the Secretary of State, early or "no excuse" absentee voting is estimated to cost the state $2,435,699.

5. Should Missouri allow early voting or "no excuse" absentee voting?

Yes = 17.88 No = 76.56 No Opinion = 5.06 Blank = 0.51

Of course, the main problem is that we have no sense of who the 10% who returned the mail questionnaire are. Since the mailing came from a Republican representative, we can assume that a larger proportion of responses came from Republican loyalists, who are also presumably opposed to government spending.

If you look at other question responses here, you see that 80% describe themselves as "pro life, 89% approve of the job being done by Tilley, etc.

Still it is not unfair to include the estimated cost of absentee voting--as reported by the Secretary of State--and ask voters if they approve of the cost.

(One news story makes the odd claim that a large proportion of state employees might have returned the survey expressing opposition because they want a pay increase in order to handle absentee ballots.)


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