Wednesday, April 26, 2006

New blog

This blog has been merged!

For more postings, please go to:

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Maryland battle over early voting continues

The partisan rancor over early voting continues in Maryland. Republicans now promise to gather signatures and force a referendum over early voting onto the November ballot. The attorney general's office claims the measure can't go to referendum, since it's already the law.

Part of the fight is over where early voting can occur. Maryland limited the sites to one per county in 14 counties, and not surprisingly, the sites are in the county seats: more populous, more urbanized, and generally more Democratic.

Early voting sparks dispute -

Monday, April 17, 2006

More on New Orleans early voting

This is a more comprehensive report on early voting, from the Time Picayune (fresh off their Pulitzer).

Looks like 3% total early voting, quite low by comparative standards.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Consolidating polling places in Maine

One quarter of Bangor's voters cast their ballot absentee. As a result, election officials are consolidating voting sites.

Unfortunately, if not done carefully, research by Henry Brady of UCB and John McNulty of Binghamton indicates that precinct consolidation may significantly harm voter turnout.

In a series of papers analyzing recent elections in California, Brady and McNulty show that changes in precinct locations, independent of other effects on turnout, may increase absentee balloting and decrease overall turnout. They show this by comparing turnout in LA County in 2002, and compare it to the recall election of 2003.

See examples of their research here

10,000 + voters cast early ballots for New Orleans mayoral primary

10,585 voters cast early ballots, according to early releases from the Secretary of State in Baton Rouge.

More than 2000 ballots were cast in East Baton Rouge parish, the highest number of absentees. Other regional and racial breakdowns are forthcoming. NewsFlash - More than 10,000 participate in New Orleans' early voting period

Early voters in WV will use paper ballots

More implementation delays for early voters in West Virginia. The touch screen vendor was unable to program the machines to handle the new ballots rapidly enough.

Interestingly, based on some reports, voters may be better off using the optically scanned ballots, an "old fashioned" technology that has proved it's mettle many times.

The Herald-Mail ONLINE

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Election Law: More Praise for EAC Commissioner Martinez

Add my praise to that from Hasen, Alvarez, and Tokaji

Election Law: More Praise for EAC Commissioner Martinez

Election administration is hard and thankless work, and Ray Martinez has done a great service bringing the EAC into the forefront of election reform. I hope the Commission finds a suitable replacement.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Early Voting Begins for New Orleans Primary

The New York Times provides a report on early voting for the New Orleans mayoral primary.

This unique situation retains a grim fascination for those of us concerned with election reforms, economic and social inequalities, and trust and confidence in government.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

How not to merge data

Another computer glitch in Texas inflated vote totals by as much as 100,000 ballots. Sounds like someone doesn't know how to do a data merge.

Interesting thought: new complex voting procedures means that match/merge/update procedures--always tricky in data management--will become very important.

Optical reader glitch snarls absentee voting in Indiana

I've been coming across lots of reports like this regarding a badly designed optical scan ballot for absentee voting in Indiana.

The Feds are overseeing LA elections

The Justice Department will send observers to the upcoming New Orleans municipal election. Because LA is under the pre-clearance provisions of the voting rights act,presumably this is so that the voting rights of displaced minority voters are not violated by the unprecedented early and absentee voting procedures.

Of course, if the Feds had provided FEMA relief lists to election officials in Louisiana, we'd be much more assured that everyone's right to vote was being guaranteed.

It's not clear what the Federal government expects to find. They aren't even saying where the observers will be.

The Shreveport Times, which published this story, is profiling the election this Sunday.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Election Updates: Improving the EAC's surveys

Another follow up on Mike and Thad's blog posting down at CalTech.

Election Updates: Improving the EAC's surveys, Mike discusses a new and improved data collection initiative that is underway at the EAC. I cannot voice my support more strongly.

The EAC Election Day survey is an wonderful tool. I have already used it to help advise election administrators in Cook County, IL and Louisiana, both of whom wanted information about prior early and absentee voting efforts. We learned an awful lot from the first election day survey, and the EAC seems very interested in learning how to improve their data collection efforts in 2006 and beyond.

The EAC has a vital role to play as a centralized repository of information on best practices, data on election administration, and advocate for more efficient and equitable election procedures in the United States.

I have also been impressed with how rapidly the EAC has been able to build an administrative apparatus. This agency is only a few years old, is underfunded (in the opinion of most in the election reform community), yet is under tremendous public scrutiny. In the face of all of this, they have managed to initiate a number of invaluable research initiatives and issue a series of reports. And I have found the EAC very receptive to partnerships with the many outside organizations who are interested in these questions--there is no turf battles that I have witnessed.

I hope in the next few years, as the budget noose continues to tighten, Congress doesn't lose sight of how important legitimate, accurate, and efficient elections are to our democratic system.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Continued pressure on LA voting rights

It's nice to see Mike Alvarez , among others, keep the spotlight on absentee voting efforts for the upcoming elections in Louisiana.

It's a pretty sad situation when you can be polled by the NY Times (March 22, 2006 Story: Evacuees' Lives Still Upended Seven Months After Hurricane), using Red Cross records of who received assistance; or you can receive ongoing relief checks from FEMA, but you can't be contacted regarding your fundamental constitutional right to vote.

Perhaps this is something that was not anticipated by Congress? Perhaps FEMA, the FEC, and the EAC need to talk to one another (they are, after all, located just a few blocks apart)?

I guess, in the new age of security / terrorism / internet / electronic records, voting rights are low on the totem pole.