LA Times: "Tsunami" feared on Election day

Here’s an article in this morning’s LA Times, “Clerks fear a ‘tsunami’ on election day.” One component to the story is a discussion of the same thread that we’ve been writing about here for a long time — surges in voter registration applications (many at the last minute), and surges in absentee ballot requests and early voting. These trends all point to strong voter turnout this fall, putting stress on election administration throughout the nation.

The other thread in the story that I found interesting, though, was buried towards the end, focusing around a quote from Jill LaVine:

The immense amount of work comes at a time when county registrars are juggling what has essentially become two elections — one that started Oct. 6 when they began to send out mail-in ballots, and the traditional Nov. 4 election day.

“What’s killing us is running the two elections at the same time — running a polling-place election and a vote-by-mail election,” said Jill LaVine, registrar of voters for Sacramento County. “Somebody says, ‘I want to vote.’ And we say ‘Which way?’ ”

This is an interesting way to characterize the process as it stands in many states and counties: having to run what are two (or sometimes three, if you think of in-person early voting as distinct from abstentee voting by mail) different elections at the same time. This would be an interesting research question, trying to quantify the ways in which this increases the complexity and cost of election administration.