Mobilizing the Youth Vote? Early Voting on College Campuses in Florida

Enrijeta Shino and Daniel A. Smith, University of Florida

Abstract

Might having additional opportunities to cast a ballot increase the probability that an
individual turns out to vote? Scholars disagree over whether or not added electoral convenience bolsters voter turnout. Examining the effects of early in-person voting on public colleges and university campuses in Florida, we argue that turnout should increase when institutional barriers are lowered, as individuals, especially those who are young, have greater options to mobilize themselves, or be mobilized by others, to vote. Using individual-level election administration data and offering a series of models (differences-in-differences (DD), differences-in-differences-in-differences (DDD), and multivariate matching combined with differences-in-differences, we estimate the causal effects of the expansion of early in-person voting on eight college campuses on voter turnout. We find strong evidence that on-campus early voting increases turnout, especially among young voters.

Most recent draft available here

Which Florida County, according to the Mueller Report, was compromised by Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election?

According to the Mueller Report, Russian operatives were able to “gain access to the network of at least one Florida county government.”

Which one? And was it even a county Supervisor of Elections office?

According to Sun Sentinel, SOEs in Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade all claim they weren’t hacked. Paul Lux, SOE of Okaloosa County and head of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, says he had “not heard from any county in Florida” that an elections office was compromised.

So, that only leaves 63 more SOEs to come clean….

Some keen observers have noted that in August during the 2018 campaign, Senator Bill Nelson visited with Taylor County SOE Dana Southerland, raising speculation that the small north Florida county may have been the one that may have been hacked in 2016.  But Nelson’s visit could have just as easily been tied his effort to make sure the $19.2 million in federal dollars to help counties defend against cyberattacks in the 2018 election was being allocated. Indeed, according to news reports, Nelson had “met privately Wednesday with about a dozen elections officials from Florida’s smallest counties, where the need for more money is greatest.”

Certainly, there is no indication that voters in Taylor County had problems voting or having their votes count, according to its Conduct of Election report filed after the election.  And my analysis of the vote histories in the 2016 election suggest no anomolous patters, either.  Of the nearly 13k registered voters, over 73% turned out, with Republicans turning out at a higher rate than Democrats, and a majority of NPAs staying home.  There were only 10 provisional ballots rejected (out of more than 7k cast early in-person and on Election Day), and only 16 VBM ballots rejected (out of roughly 2.5k cast). Again, nothing to raise major concerns.

So, it seems like the easiest way to get to the bottom of this mystery is to have reporters to continue to ask the other 63 SOEs if their systems were breached.

Well, surprise, surprise. Stymied once again at the ballot box, Florida Republicans want to change the rules for statewide ballot initiatives…

On Tuesday, the Florida House Judiciary Committee proposed PCB CDJ 19-01, a cynical power grab by the majority party to crack down on the citizen initiative process.  Over the past 20 years, Floridians, in a state dominated by Republican lawmakers, have consistently approved progressive ballot measures–from High Speed Rail, to Raising the Minimum Wage, to Fair Redistricting, to Medial Marijuana, to Felon Re-infranchisment.  When fellow citizens place these statewide constitutional amendments on the ballot for public consumption, Florida voters consistently gobble them up.

Now Republican lawmakers want to crackdown on the initiative process itself, changing the rules of the game so as to stymie future efforts to have citizens approve statewide ballot issues the majority party can easily bury in the legislative process.

PCB CDJ 19-01 is not the only attack on the process of direct democracy in Florida this session.  SJR 232 would require citizen-initiated constitutional amendments to pass with a 2/3rds supermajority, up from 60% (which, itself, was jacked up from a simple majority by a statewide referendum placed on the ballot by the Republican legislature in 2006).

This is all part of a coordinated attack on the initiative process, and not only in Florida (see what’s happening in other states in this Brennan Center piece). It’s not new (I wrote about similar efforts more than a decade ago); as it was then, it is clearly motivated by partisanship and control of the policy agenda.

So, it’s not rocket science as to why Republican-controlled legislatures try to change the rules of the game, curtailing the power of citizens to use the initiative process.  Progressive statewide ballot measures often are approved in states where conservatives dominate the state legislature. In these states, Republican lawmakers aren’t used to, nor do they like, ceding the legislative agenda to the people. After all, in the first part, in many states they control state government precisely because they were able to successfully gerrymander legislative districts–drawing favorable districts to afford them a majority of seats in both legislative chambers, thus controlling the policy agenda.

Of course, direct democracy is no panacea for what ails our republic, and over the past 25 years I’ve written critically about the process. But as Woodrow Wilson, no fan of the initiative process himself, conceded in 1911 while on the presidential hustings, citizen lawmaking can serve as the “gun behind the door–for use only in case of an emergency, but a mighty good persuader, nevertheless.”