Monday, September 29, 2014

Back To Work On Monday

I'm in the Election Season Bubble earlier than usual this year. The closer it gets to Election Day, the more I'm caught up in the process and mechanics of my job and the less focused I can be in specific races and issues. So today I'm going to talk about work, more or less.

When this is over, I'm going to look at a pet theory I developed during our June primary: a trend toward Early Voting Earlier. As polarization increases, more and more people have their minds made up earlier and just can't wait to cast that vote (I cast my own ballot Saturday at the Iowa City Farmer's Market).

There are some other reasons for that. Cycles vary but it's clear that this year the state Democratic Party, far more of a driving force in this than Republicans, is pushing mailed ballots above in-person early ballots. Republicans are trying harder in the Branstad 6.0 Era than they did post-Florida, when they spent a decade teaching their voters that early voting was fraud.

Speaking of voter fraud, Matt Schultz is going to need to investigate this guy:
And THIS guy:
Just kidding, Chris. Nice to see you teaching him early. But worth noting: where they can, Republicans are taking a if you can't beat `em, stop `em approach to early voting.

No, Early Voting Earlier does not mean letting six year olds vote, though that would certainly change campaign tactics. It means legal adults (attention Iowa City Council: the Constitution says that's 18) who used to vote a week before an election now voting a month before.

Adding to that trend here locally, our in-person early voting schedule is also more front-loaded. Sites are spread across more time. The Hy-Vee schedule has changed from all four stores on one day to Votemobile visits on different days. A home football game cuts into the schedule on the final Saturday (we've tried satellite sites on home game days and they don't do well). So when it's all over, a turnout curve that used to look exponential is going to flatten out and be more linear.

Among other things I'm dealing with in my professional life: mistakes. Now, lord knows that I didn't do everything I tried doing for the first time right when I was 20. But in this article about partisan finger-pointing in Georgia registration drives, some interesting stats:
According to the most recent report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission's Election Administration and Voting Survey, 13.9 percent of registration applications were flagged as either invalid or duplicate nationwide in the last election cycle. The Election Assistance Commission's report does not list data about invalid or rejected forms collected by advocacy groups or parties in Georgia. However, there were problems with 8.8 percent of applications collected by these groups nationally...
Anecdotally, I think our local error rate is way below that, a tribute to all the people on both sides and all the neutral folks who are signing up new voters.

And I was going to wrap up with a look at the controversial question of election resource allocation, but that got long enough to be its own post. Sorry to tease but check back tomorrow.

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