Novak on UOCAVA voters

Robert Novak has a column out, “They Fight but Can’t Vote.” It’s interesting to see that Novak has picked up on one of refrains that Thad, Paul and I have been hammering on for many years — that even simple statistics like the UOCAVA participation rate are unknown, and that the official statistics we get may be incorrect:

Analysis by the federal Election Assistance Commission, rejecting inflated Defense Department voting claims, estimated overseas and absentee military voting rates for the 2006 midterm elections at a disgracefully low 5.5 percent. The quality of voting statistics is so poor that there is no way to tell how many of the slightly more than 330,000 votes were sent in by absentee military voters and their dependents and how many were from civilian Americans living abroad.

Nobody who has studied the question objectively thinks there has been any improvement since 2006, and that is a scandal.

For more on military voters, see the paper that Thad and I wrote with Brian F. Roberts, “Military Voting and the Law: Procedural and Technological Solutions to the Ballot Transit Problem.” If you want a general discussion of the problems associated with collecting election administration data, see the paper that I published with Stephen Ansolabehere and Charles Stewart III in PSJ, “Studying Elections: Data Quality and Pitfalls in Measuring the Effects of Voting Technologies.”

I’ll let Paul plug the Pew projects on data collection …