VTP News

Prof. Thad Hall interview on "Voting on the Internet" in Estonia.

Former Soviet Republic Estonia is the first country in the world to allow citizens to vote over the internet. Thad Hall, an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Utah, recently observed the municipal elections in that country, which saw 20% of the vote conducted online. He tells Utah Policy how the country conducts the online vote and ensures the integrity of the election process on the internet.

See attached interview.

http://fwix.com/saltlake/share/91eb17e213/voting_on_the_internet

MIT's Charles Stewart receives Arthur C. Smith Award.

Professor Charles Stewart is this year's recipient of the Institute's Arthur C. Smith Award. The Arthur C. Smith Award was established in 1996 on the occasion of Dean Smith's retirement from the position of Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs. The award honors the service of Dean Smith and is presented to a member of the MIT faculty for meaningful contributions and devotion to undergraduate student life at MIT.

2008 Survey of the Performance of American Elections

Charles Stewart is giving a presentation at the IACREOT 38th Annual Summer Conference & Trade Show in Spokane, Washington this week (July 7-11, 2009).

Attached is his presentation on the 2008 Survey of the Performance of American Elections.

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United States Senate Committee on Rules and Administration

News from Chairman Schumer

Schumer Reveals Groundbreaking New Study from Voting Experts: Up to 7 Million Registered Voters were Prevented or Discouraged from Casting Ballots in '08 Election

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, announced Wednesday that, according to a groundbreaking new study conducted by leading election experts, as many as seven million registered voters were prevented or discouraged from casting their ballots in the 2008 election, demonstrating major malfunctions in the country’s election process.

http://rules.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=InNews.MajorityNews&...

Also,

Testimony of Mr. Stephen Ansolabehere
Professor, Department of Government
Harvard University

Hearing: Voter Registration: Assessing Current Problems
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Testimony
Testimony of Mr. Stephen Ansolabehere
Professor, Department of Government
Harvard University

http://rules.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=CommitteeSchedule.Te...

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03112009Ansolabehere_Testimony.pdf139.24 KB

Election Day Went Smoothly But Trouble Spots Remain, Survey Shows

WASHINGTON, Dec 09, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Pew Center on the States and the JEHT Foundation Commit $8 Million in 2009 to Modernize Election System
Despite widespread predictions of Election Day meltdowns, the election ran relatively smoothly, according to a new national survey. An overwhelming number of voters on November 4 -- more than nine in ten (91 percent) -- said it was very easy to find their polling place; more than eight in ten (83 percent) said their polling place was very well run; and 75 percent said they were "very confident" their vote was counted as cast. The survey of 10,000 Americans, conducted November 5-12, confirms anecdotal reports of voter satisfaction. Pew Center on the States' Make Voting Work ( www.pewcenteronthestates.org) and AARP sponsored the survey, which was conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The first of its kind since the election, the research poll was released at Make Voting Work's (MVW) "Voting in America -- The Road Ahead" conference today, where Secretaries of State, election officials and experts gathered to discuss and drive election reform.
"Overall, voters give the election system very good grades," said Michael Caudell-Feagan, director of Pew Center on the States' Make Voting Work. "But the data does point to issues with voter wait times, absentee voting and inconsistent application of election laws. With momentum building for reform, now is the time to wrestle with where and how to improve our system based on the insights from voters' direct experience in navigating it. We are confident election officials are committed to identifying and testing innovative solutions."
Among the survey's findings:

-- On Election Day, African American voters waited more than twice as long
to vote (29 minutes) than all other voters, who reported an average wait
time of 13 minutes to vote. Early voters said they had to wait an
average of 20 minutes to vote, but African Americans again reported an
average wait time more than twice as long -- 43 minutes;
-- Only 61 percent of absentee voters said they were very confident their
vote was counted as cast, compared to 75 percent of Election Day voters;
-- Among those who did not vote, eight percent said they had requested an
absentee ballot but it never arrived, 16 percent had registration
problems and 10 percent could not find their polling place;
-- Almost everyone surveyed said they had at least one form of government
ID. Hispanics said they were asked to show ID more often than whites or
African Americans in states that require ID;
-- More than half of the states require no ID to vote, yet 12 percent of
voters in these states not requiring ID said they were asked to present
an ID. Meanwhile, in states that require a photo ID, 20 percent of
voters said they were never asked for one.

"Over the coming weeks, we will continue to look at the data to learn more about why people had different experiences when they voted," said pollster Charles Stewart III, professor of political science at MIT. "In February, we plan to release an extended analysis providing breakdowns by state and by segments of the electorate."
New Funding to Study Alternatives to Voting by Precinct and Other Innovations
Make Voting Work (MVW) will invest more than $8 million in 2009 to drive advances in the field - continuing its focus on voter information, voter registration, audits, polling place management, and military and overseas voting. Launched in 2007, MVW is a unique partnership of the Pew Center on the States with the JEHT Foundation.
"With Make Voting Work, the Pew Center on the States is documenting problems in our election system and identifying opportunities for improvement," said Susan K. Urahn, managing director, Pew Center on the States. "Our research on the 2008 elections shows that state and local election officials adopted a variety of innovations designed to improve how elections are run. By field-testing these new approaches, Make Voting Work will build the evidence base needed for sound policymaking. And when we know what works, we will explore how to advance policies that lead to significant improvements across the country."
Initially, the new funding will be applied to six projects that will evaluate the impact of early voting and other alternatives to traditional precinct place voting on turnout, voter convenience and satisfaction, integrity and security of the system, and administrative efficiency and cost. Working with leading election officials around the country, MVW will commission a number of additional pilot projects, case studies and experiments in 2009 to deepen the evidence base available to policymakers, those administering our elections, and the American electorate.
Make Voting Work, a project of the Pew Center on the States, seeks to foster an election system that achieves the highest standards of accuracy, accessibility, efficiency and security. The initiative examines the most pressing election problems, and undertakes and evaluates pilot projects and experiments designed to address them. This research will inform our efforts to identify effective solutions through changes in policies, practices and technology. Further information is available at www.pewcenteronthestates.org.
The JEHT Foundation was established in April 2000. Its name stands for the core values that underlie the Foundation's mission: Justice, Equality, Human dignity and Tolerance. The Foundation focuses on criminal and juvenile justice, international justice, and fair and participatory elections. Working directly with states, in some cases in-depth, is a key part of the Foundation strategy to implement practical change related to its mission.
SOURCE Pew Center on the States

Minnesota challenge variability

The real action in the Minnesota recount will be the ballots challenged by the two campaigns on the grounds that the voter intent was not properly ascertained. These challenged ballots are emerging even when the county recounts show no discrepancy with the count of the ballots successfully scanned by the machines. As I suggested in an earlier posting, this is an illustration of why the post-election audit is not an especially good predictor of what will happen in the recount. The result will be determined by looking at the ballots that the machines fail to count if they are functioning properly. (Why some of these ballots weren’t kicked back to the voters because they were overvotes is another issue to be pondered.)

If the best hunting for new votes is among the “residual votes,” then it is natural to ask whether the different parts of the state seem to be setting aside the same proportion of ballots for further scrutiny. The answer here is “no.”

Statewide, about 5% of the residual vote has ended up as a challenged ballot. Two counties that have completed their recounts have seen challenges lodged against over 20% of their residual votes: Cook (25%) and Fillmore (25%). St. Louis (21%), and Wabasha (32%) counties are also over 20%, but the recounts aren’t complete. Five counties have seen precisely zero challenges: Clearwater, Lincoln, Norman, Red Lake, and Redwood. These are tiny counties, and so we might expect that the number of challenges would be low. Nonetheless, even if the fraction of ambiguous ballots is 1% of the residual votes, then the probability that the challenged ballots in these counties would be precisely zero is very small.

It is natural to assume that the rate of challenging will vary according to who is representing the campaigns in each county. The Minnesota recount process is very orderly, but the human element is undoubtedly present, too.

http://electionupdates.caltech.edu/

Minnesota challenge variability

The real action in the Minnesota recount will be the ballots challenged by the two campaigns on the grounds that the voter intent was not properly ascertained. These challenged ballots are emerging even when the county recounts show no discrepancy with the count of the ballots successfully scanned by the machines. As I suggested in an earlier posting, this is an illustration of why the post-election audit is not an especially good predictor of what will happen in the recount. The result will be determined by looking at the ballots that the machines fail to count if they are functioning properly. (Why some of these ballots weren’t kicked back to the voters because they were overvotes is another issue to be pondered.)

If the best hunting for new votes is among the “residual votes,” then it is natural to ask whether the different parts of the state seem to be setting aside the same proportion of ballots for further scrutiny. The answer here is “no.”

Statewide, about 5% of the residual vote has ended up as a challenged ballot. Two counties that have completed their recounts have seen challenges lodged against over 20% of their residual votes: Cook (25%) and Fillmore (25%). St. Louis (21%), and Wabasha (32%) counties are also over 20%, but the recounts aren’t complete. Five counties have seen precisely zero challenges: Clearwater, Lincoln, Norman, Red Lake, and Redwood. These are tiny counties, and so we might expect that the number of challenges would be low. Nonetheless, even if the fraction of ambiguous ballots is 1% of the residual votes, then the probability that the challenged ballots in these counties would be precisely zero is very small.

It is natural to assume that the rate of challenging will vary according to who is representing the campaigns in each county. The Minnesota recount process is very orderly, but the human element is undoubtedly present, too.

Electronic Elections - The Library @ COM Blog

Since the 2000 presidential election, the United States has been embroiled in debates about electronic voting. Critics say the new technologies invite tampering and fraud. Advocates say they enhance the accuracy of vote counts and make casting ballots easier--and ultimately foster greater political participation. Electronic Elections cuts through the media spin to assess the advantages and risks associated with different ways of casting ballots--and shows how e-voting can be the future of American democracy.

Elections by nature are fraught with risk. Michael Alvarez and Thad Hall fully examine the range of past methods and the new technologies that have been created to try to minimize risk and accurately reflect the will of voters. Drawing upon a wealth of new data on how different kinds of electronic voting machines have performed in recent elections nationwide, they evaluate the security issues that have been the subject of so much media attention, and examine the impacts the new computer-based solutions is having on voter participation. Alvarez and Hall explain why the benefits of e-voting can outweigh the challenges, and they argue that media coverage of the new technologies has emphasized their problems while virtually ignoring their enormous potential for empowering more citizens to vote. The authors also offer ways to improve voting technologies and to develop more effective means of implementing and evaluating these systems.

Electronic Elections makes a case for how e-voting can work in the United States, showing why making it work right is essential to the future vibrancy of the democratic process.

Title: Electronic Elections: The Perils and Promises of Digital Democracy

Author: Michael Alvarez and Thad E. Hall

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Call number: JK1985 .A484 2008

Prof. Charles Stewart on balance of power in Congress

Prof. Charles Stewart on balance of power in Congress

New England Cable News, interview by Latoyia Edwards, November 4, 2008, video on site
"Right now, Democrats hold the majority in the House and Senate, but it's a narrow majority, and they are not filibuster-proof. Joining Latoyia Edwards with more from the Suffolk University NECN downtown Boston studio is Charles Stewart, head of the political science department at MIT."

http://www.necn.com/Boston/Politics/Prof-Charles-Stewart-on-balance-of-p...

"Why are we releasing exit poll data now?"

Paul Gronke has an interesting post at Election Updates. Actually, there's a lot of great stuff there. And Charles Stewart has begun blogging there too. Be sure to check it often on Tuesday. I will.

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