- Enrijeta Shino, Mara Suttmann-Lea, and Daniel A. Smith. 2021 “Assessing Rejected Mail Ballots in Georgia: Implications for COVID-19,” Political Research Quarterly (February).
- Michael C. Herron and Daniel A. Smith. 2021. “Postal Delivery Disruptions and the Fragility of Voting by Mail: Lessons from Maine,” Research & Politics (January).
- Anna Baringer, Michael Herron, and Daniel A. Smith. 2020. “Voting by Mail and Ballot Rejection: Lessons from Florida for Elections in the Age of the Coronavirus,” Election Law Journal 19(3): 289-320.
- Enrijeta Shino and Daniel A. Smith. 2020. “Political Knowledge and Convenience Voting,” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties (August).
- Enrijeta Shino and Daniel A. Smith. 2020. “Mobilizing the Youth Vote? Early Voting on College Campuses.” Election Law Journal 19(4): 524-541.
- David Cottrell, Michael C. Herron, and Daniel A. Smith. 2020. “Voting Lines, Equal Treatment, and Early Voting Check-in Times in Florida,” State Politics and Policy Quarterly.
- Thessalia Merivaki and Daniel A. Smith. 2019. “A Failsafe for Voters? Cast and Rejected Provisional Ballots in North Carolina,” Political Research Quarterly 73(1): 65-78.
- Hannah L. Walker, Michael C. Herron, and Daniel A. Smith. 2019. “North Carolina voter turnout and early voting hours in the 2016 General Election.” Political Behavior 41: 841-69.
- Daniel Biggers and Daniel A. Smith. 2020. “Does Threatening their Franchise Make Registered Voters More Likely to Participate? Evidence from an Aborted Voter Purge.” British Journal of Political Science 50(3): 933-954.
- Brian Amos, Daniel A. Smith, and Casey Ste. Claire. 2017. “Reprecincting and Voting Behavior,” Political Behavior 39(1): 133-156.
- Michael C. Herron and Daniel A. Smith. 2016. “Race, Shelby County, and the Voter Information Verification Act in North Carolina,” Florida State University Law Review 43: 465-506.
- Michael C. Herron and Daniel A. Smith. 2016. “Precinct Resources and Voter Wait Times,” Electoral Studies 42: 249–63.
- Thessalia Merivaki and Daniel A. Smith. 2016. “Casting and Verifying Provisional Ballots in Florida,” Social Science Quarterly 97(3): 729–47.
- Michael C. Herron and Daniel A. Smith. 2015. “Precinct Closing Times in Florida during the 2012 General Election,” Election Law Journal 14: 220-38.
- Michael C. Herron and Daniel A. Smith. 2014. “Race, Party, and the Consequences of Restricting Early Voting in Florida in the 2012 General Election,” Political Research Quarterly 67: 646-65.
- Michael C. Herron and Daniel A. Smith. 2013. “The Effects of House Bill 1355 on Voter Registration in Florida,” State Politics and Policy Quarterly, 13: 279-305.
- Michael C. Herron and Daniel A. Smith. 2012. “Souls to the Polls: Early Voting in Florida in the Shadow of House Bill 1355,” Election Law Journal 11: 331-47.
“Residual Votes in the 2020 Election in Georgia”
David Cottrell, Felix E. Herron, Michael C. Herron, and Daniel A. Smith
The 2020 General Election took place against the backdrop of a pandemic and numerous claims about incipient voter fraud and election malfeasance. No state’s presidential race was closer than Georgia’s, where a hand recount of the presidential contest is planned. As an initial post-election audit of the 2020 election in Georgia, we analyze residual vote rates in statewide races. A race’s residual vote rate combines the rates at which ballots contain undervotes (abstentions) and overvotes (which occur when voters cast more than the allowed number of votes in a race). Anomalously high residual vote rates can be indicative of underlying election administration problems, like ballot design flaws. Our analysis of residual vote rates in Georgia uncovers nothing anomalous in the presidential race, a notable result given this race’s closeness. We do, however, nd an unusually high overvote rate in Georgia’s special election for a seat in the United States Senate. This high overvote rate is concentrated in Gwinnett County and appears to reflect the county’s two-column ballot design that led roughly 4,000 voters to select more than one candidate for senate in the special election, in the process rendering invalid their votes in this contest.
The full paper is available here.
With just a day and a half of early in-person voting remaining (in large counties; it ends in most smaller counties today), and with about 80 hours left to get those VBM ballots to Supervisor of Elections offices (7pm Election Day deadline), I thought I’d look into who has voted so far in the Florida General Election.
So, as of the morning of Saturday, October 31, 54.2% of the state’s registered voters have cast a ballot. That’s 8.3m voters out of over 15.3m who were on the books as of September 30 have voted. Below, I’ll discuss those who registered Oct 1-Oct 6.
Of those who have either had their VBM ballot accepted as “valid” (V) or have voted early in-person (EIP), 39.6% are Ds, 38.2% are Rs, and 20.9% are NPAs (No Party Affiliates). In raw numbers, that’s about 150k more Ds than Rs in raw numbers. Obviously, it’s how the NPAs break for Trump or Biden that will decide this election.
In 2016, NPAs on who turned out on Election Day voted decisively for Trump. Republicans made up about 40% of the 3m voters who cast their ballots on ED, Democrats about 35%, and the balance NPAs and 3rd party adherents. Trump won Election Day in the 2 party vote over Clinton by 13 points. That difference, 13 points, was NPA support for Trump, particularly among voters who are relatively infrequent voters.
So far in 2020, as a fraction of those registered by party, 58.4% of Ds have voted, 58.5% of Rs have voted, but only 43.0% of NPAs have voted. There is massive GOTV and persuasion targeting these voters, and for good reason.
With regard to race/ethnicity, in advance of November 3, 49.8% of the state’s 2m registered Black voters, 49.9% of the state’s 2.6m registered Hispanic voters, and 57.0% of the state’s 9.4m registered white voters have cast ballots (VBM + EIP). In addition, 50.2% of the 1.7m voters of other race/ethnicity (or unknown) have voted. These totals are of those who were registered as of September 30.
As for age groups, 39.4% of 18-23 year olds, 33.2% of 24-29 year olds, 41.7% of 30-44 year olds, 58.7% of 45-64 year olds, and 70.3% of 65+ have voted. There are 1.7x as many 65+ registered in the state (4.2m) than 18-29 year olds (2.5m), so the effect of lower youth turnout is only magnified in terms of impact on the vote totals. Maybe youth turnout is strong in other states, but if it’s going to make any impact in Florida, younger voters have some work do to heading into Election Day, dropping off their mail ballots (in person, one hopes), and voting in their local precinct on Tuesday.
There was lots of talk by Republicans about how they’ve narrowed the registration gap with Democrats this year. Nearly 857k registered by September 30, 2020, and already 42.8% have turnout out. More of these 2020 registrants who have voted are Rs than Ds — some 35k more, to be precise. In fact, more newly registered NPAs have voted (276k) than newly registered Ds (255k); 291k Rs who registered in the first 9 months of 2020 have voted.
So, what about those voters who got their registrations processed just under the state’s 29-day deadline (which was moved to 28-days before Election Day due to the crashing of the Secretary of State’s voter registration online portal). Nearly Some 184k Floridians registered in the waning days; 59k Rs, 52k Ds, and 65k NPAs. So far, 33.4% of Rs, 30.7% of Ds, and 31.7% of NPAs have voted. Pretty lack-luster turnout across the board, but particularly among Ds. Turnout of these newly registered voters is a function of age: Among Ds, 18-29 year olds make up roughly 42% of all late registrants, whereas they comprise only 33% of Rs last-minute registrants. If your GOTV strategy is to turn out these voters, either having them turn in the VBM ballots on time, or turning them out on Election Day, it’s a risky proposition.
Should be close to the finish. After all, it’s Florida.
Why has President Trump relentlessly attacked the opportunities of Americans to vote by mail? Putting aside his baseless claims about voter fraud, efforts to curtail registered
voters from casting a ballot prior to Election Day could, in fact, limit more knowledgeable voters from turning out to vote in November.
Well before the COVID-19 pandemic made it public health necessity, a growing number of
states had been expanding ways for registered voters to cast ballots prior to Election Day, either in person or by mail. Drawing on five Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) pre- and post-election national surveys, as well as an original survey of registered voters in Florida, Enrijeta Shino and I find in our new article, “Political Knowledge and Convenience Voting,” in Elections, Public Opinion & Parties, that more politically knowledgeable voters are significantly more likely to cast their ballots before Election Day.
Why might more knowledgeable voters be willing to cast their ballot early? Won’t they possibly miss the unearthing of a scandalous 11th hour event that could tip their decision to support a different party or candidate? We argue that such last-minute information—no matter how salacious—does not alter the electoral sensibilities of voters who have higher levels of political knowledge. We argue that prospective voters who have a command over basic facts about government institutions and political actors—what are known as “static-general” facts—are more willing to take advantage of “convenience” voting opportunities, casting their ballot days, or even weeks, prior to Election Day. In short, having a greater facility of the players and the “rules of the game” affects both when and how voters decide to vote, even after controlling for standard socio-economic, political, and campaign factors, as well as a respondent’s partisanship, ideology, and political engagement and awareness.
We find that those who possess less political knowledge, as well as Republicans, are much more likely to hold off to cast their ballot on Election Day. If voters with less political knowledge across the American states are less likely to vote early—particularly by mail—is it any wonder the President has made voting-by-mail Public Enemy #1?