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By Bernard Tamas, Associate Professor of Political Science, Valdosta State University

Voter suppression has become an increasing concern among proponents of voting rights, especially as federal courts have shown through Shelby County v. Holder (2013) and subsequent cases that they will adopt a more hands-off stance on questionable actions by state governments. In reaction to these changes, political scientists and other scholars have published considerable amounts of research demonstrating the rising threat of voter suppression in the United States.

I approach this issue from an angle of electoral bias. With funding support from the MIT Election Data Science Lab (MEDSL) as well as the American Political Science Association’s Centennial Center (APSA), my research looks at the relationship between voter suppression and electoral bias. Specifically, I am asking the question, can voter suppression increase electoral bias in single-member district electoral systems?


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This post was written by Brian Amos, an assistant professor at Wichita State University.

In early 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin reporting the results of this decade’s nationwide count of population. Thanks to the Constitution and some landmark Supreme Court cases decided in the 1960s, every level of elected government with districts in the nation will be required to look at these new figures and redraw their lines to balance out populations if necessary.

In many states, this will be a fight. The fate of the U.S. House and each state legislature for the coming decade will be determined in part by which voters get drawn into which district, and both parties have a strong interest in making those choices friendly for themselves. There will be gerrymanders, there will be lawsuits challenging the gerrymanders, and millions of dollars will be spent by both parties to grind out an advantage. …


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As political scientists here at the MIT Election Lab, we are really social scientists. We work with many others to understand what’s happening. We aim to help the public by being a fact-based center of election analysis, in the midst of what might be a foggy information environment.

Today, we are watching and observing the 2020 U.S. election unfold — likely, we’re focused on some of the same things you’ve been thinking about. We are interested in the effects of COVID-19 on the processes of this year’s election, and have been following the differences for voters and election administrators alike. …


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A State Spotlight from the Stanford-MIT Healthy Election Project

Our story today comes from a November 2, 2020 report from John Curiel, as part of the MIT Election Lab’s work with the Stanford-MIT Healthy Election Project.

Highlights:

  • MIT and Stanford researchers take a deep dive into North Carolina’s early voting data (updated daily) to understand the trends in requests, returns, demographics, and party breakdown.
  • As of November 2, roughly 3.6 million North Carolina voters had already cast their ballots early in person — this number is more than three-quarters the total voter turnout from the 2016 General Election.
  • On the weekend before election day alone, 158,810 North Carolinians voted.
  • The rates of early voting by race have been roughly equal to their proportions of registered voters. …


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A State Spotlight from the Stanford-MIT Healthy Election Project

Our story today comes from a November 2, 2020 report from Bradley Lawrence and Emily Kohn, as part of the MIT Election Lab’s work with the Stanford-MIT Healthy Election Project.

Highlights:

  • MIT and Stanford researchers take a deep dive into Wisconsin’s mail-in ballot data to understand the trends in requests, returns, and demographics breakdown.
  • In Wisconsin, 2020 has seen a more than 60x increase in mail-in ballot requests across the state relative to 2016. As of this past week, more than 1.4 million mail ballots had been requested, compared to 23,700 in 2016.
  • The number of mail in requests has remained constant at roughly 75,000 each week for the last three weeks. …


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A State Spotlight from the Stanford-MIT Healthy Election Project

Our story today comes from a November 2, 2020 report from Kevin DeLuca, Sam Pauley, and Emerson Webb, as part of the MIT Election Lab’s work with the Stanford-MIT Healthy Election Project.

Highlights:

  • MIT and Stanford researchers take a deep dive into Georgia’s mail in ballot data to understand trends in requests, returns, and demographics.*
  • As of October 31, nearly 1.78 million mail ballots have been requested, compared to 241,519 in 2016 — a 7x increase.
  • 288,430 of these mail ballot requests have been canceled (usually by the voters themselves because they decided to vote early in person instead, or due to other administrative issues including whether they moved, or the ballot was destroyed). …

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Image from Adam Thomas, Unsplash.

Today’s post was written by Kevin DeLuca, a graduate student at the Harvard Kennedy School and researcher for the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project and MIT Election Lab.

Highlights:

  • At the end of the early voting period, Texans have cast 9,718,648 early votes, consisting of 8,745,565 early in-person votes and 973,083 mail-in ballots.
  • This represents 108% of the total votes cast in Texas in 2016, and 57% turnout among registered voters.
  • Assuming that 80% of people voted early, estimated total turnout in 2020 would be slightly over 12 million votes cast, a 35% increase from 2016.
  • Voters over the age of 45 make up a disproportionate share of early votes (relative to their share of registered voters). While voters aged 18–24 make up only 7.2% of the early votes, this represents a huge surge in youth early vote turnout.


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Image from Tareq Ismail, Unsplash.

A State Spotlight from the Stanford-MIT Healthy Election Project

Our story today comes from an October 27, 2020 report from John Curiel and Jesse T. Clark, as part of the MIT Election Lab’s work with the Stanford-MIT Healthy Election Project.

Highlights:

  • Researchers from MIT and Stanford take a deep dive into Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballot data to understand weekly trends, demographic and party breakdown, and where the battleground state stands in requests and returns.
  • As of this past week, a cumulative 2.9 million mail ballots have been requested across Pennsylvania, compared to 230,000 in 2016. This is a more than 12x increase over four years.
  • 1,455,351 ballots have been returned, which is roughly half of total requested ballots (50.17%). …


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Photo by Glen Carrie

In Episode 3 of our video series Talking Elections, we wanted to take a look at voter education which is an important topic that doesn’t get enough notice in the elections community. There is a lot of information that voters need to know to vote and have their votes counted accurately, from registration deadlines and the documentation they might need to register to the location of polling places, voter identification requirements and how to properly mark their ballots as they’re counted.

There are special challenges in voting in the midst of Covid where things are changing so fast — especially on an emergency basis sometimes within hours of the polls opening. …


What does queuing theory say about managing polling places amid COVID-19?

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Photo by Halacious on Unsplash

Our post today comes from a report by Colin McIntyre, a researcher with the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project.

A general consensus has emerged among the broader elections community that providing a safe voting environment starts by allowing any voter who wishes to vote by mail to do so. This would reduce the number of voters in confined spaces, either on Election Day, or during early voting periods before Election Day. …

About

MIT Election Lab

By applying scientific principles to how elections are studied and administered, we aim to improve the democratic experience for all U.S. voters.

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