I have written a number of papers trying to identify to profile of the “typical” absentee and early voter. As some of the readers here undoubtedly know, I’ve had mixed success. When working with individual level voter files, the results are generally consistent: early voters tend to be older, they report longer commute times, and they live in areas with higher average incomes and educational levels. I find the same results when I worked with a special exit poll conducted in one county in 2004.
National level surveys don’t do as good of a job capturing early voters. I speculated at the most recent APSA meeting that this may be due to significant variation at the local levels, tied to campaign and mobilization efforts.
This story from Savannah, GA reinforces my point. The local NAACP is responding to a law requiring voter ID at the polls by helping elderly, minority, and low income voters to obtain IDs.
Buried in the end of the story, though, is this throw away line: And the group will also encourage absentee voting.
Again, on average , I have found that African American voters are less likely to take advantage of early voting systems. But in Savannah in 2008, the opposite may be true, because of efforts such as these.