Afternoon update from AEI

Glad to see Michael’s posting from NAS.  I am watching a voter registration panel right now with Nate Persily, Michael McDonald, Doug Chapin, and Kain Mac Donald.

Karin presented some results from a set of surveys and data collection efforts that tracked polling place incidents.  The materials were in pretty undigested state at this point–I was hoping that she would be able to say more about what chacteristics of the state’s election system were correlated with the occurrence of incidents.  I suspect we’ll see that in the future.

Doug primarily gave an overview of the landscape of election reform, paticularly highlighting the importance of state legislators in this process.  He simultaneously dissed lawyers and political scientists, in Doug’s inimitable controversial style.  His point, actually, was that many of the questions about election reform may be at a stage where public administration can play a role, and I agree with him.

Michael gave a review of his research on database errors.  I’m not going to summarize much here, other than to recommend that everyone look at this work.  The level of very, very basic errors is pretty shocking.  Lastly, to Nate Persily: I was interested in some CCES results on line lengths.

The previous panel on early voting was of course utterly compelling since I participated on it.  I think the panelists–Norm Ornstein, Ned Foley, John Fortier, and myself–were pretty much in agreement.  Early voting reforms are coming, and all of the panelists expressed a hope for best practices and a good information basis before states rush headlong down this path.

Questions from the audience seemed to cast doubt on that, however.  Officials from Maryland, Missouri, and New York each stood up and said “what can you tell me right now” because legal changes are on the way.