Electorate Study: How Did the Voter’s Choice Act Affect Turnout in 2018?

Research Questions: “In its first year of implementation, did the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) change turnout patterns in the counties – Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento, and San Mateo – that adopted this new reform? How did this reform affect the turnout of groups of Californians – young voters, Latinos, and Asian Americans– who have often participated in elections at lower rates than others? We address these questions by gathering data on turnout rates, voter demographics, and electoral competition from 2002 through the primary and general elections of 2018, comparing trends in the adopting counties to the rest of the state.”

Catalist Report 2018 Absentee by State by Age

Catalist and NVAHI have discussed the 2018 absentee and early vote totals and the impact of age. Below, we present the absentee and early vote (AVEV) distribution within the AVEV states in 2018, by age. The AVEV vote does not necessarily represent the general election electorate in each state – states vary in their adoption, and the regulations governing who can legally vote early or absentee – but in many states the AVEV vote represents a significant portion of the total 2018 vote.

How Electoral Institutions Affect Political Accountability

This research finds that expansion of vote at home systems increases turnout and reduces ballot roll-off.

Abstract: “A central question in the study of democratic governance concerns the conditions under which voters make informed choices at the ballot box. I exploit the staggered implementation of an electoral reform in a U.S. state to study the effects of electoral institutions on voter information and political accountability. I find that [vote at home] elections cause an increase in turnout in municipal elections and a decrease in ballot roll-off on statewide ballot measures in presidential election years in some counties, which is largely consistent with my argument that voters gather more information about politics when voting by mail. Further, there is strong evidence that vote-by-mail results in a decrease in taxing and spending in municipalities. The institution has less conclusive effects on municipal accountability audit outcomes. Using data from the Catalist voter file I show that these results cannot be explained by changes in the composition of the electorate caused by vote-by-mail.”

Mail Ballot Return Choices

This purpose of this report is to share research done by the National Vote at Home Institute (NVAHI) during the summer of 2018 into how true “Vote at Home” (VAH) jurisdictions operate when it comes to managing and driving voter behavior across the three major ballot return methodologies.

Colorado Voting Reforms: Early Results

Significant changes to Colorado election law necessitated an overhaul of the state’s voting process. The Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act of 2013 mandated that mail ballots be sent to every registered voter for most elections; eliminated assigned polling places while establishing voter service and polling centers where any voter in a county can cast a ballot—either early or on Election Day; authorized in person same-day registration; and shortened the state residency requirements for voter registration.

The Pew Charitable Trusts funded research on the impact of these changes, and although study of future elections is needed to better evaluate the effects, initial findings include:

  • Costs decreased by an average of 40 percent in five election administration-related categories. The 46 (of 64) counties with data available spent about $9.56 per vote in the 2014 general election, compared with nearly $16 in 2008.1
  • The use of provisional ballots declined nearly 98 percent. In the 2010 general election, voters in the state cast 39,361 provisional ballots. In 2014, that number dropped to 981.
  • Nearly two-thirds of voters in the 2014 general election said they returned their ballots in person, rather than by mail. Of these voters, almost 80 percent said it took them less than 10 minutes to get to a designated location, usually a drop box.