NC Absentee voting success rate way up in 2012: 90.67% civilian, 76.74% military, 85.97% overseas

November 20, 2012

With reforms I  mentioned previously, the 2009 and 2011 North Carolina General Assemblies made absentee voting easier for civilian, military, and overseas voters, reducing witness requirements, extending return deadlines, and allowing the military and overseas voters to vote with ballots attached to email.

For civilians, the success rate* for absentee requests rose from 82.56% in 2008 to 90.67% in 2012 (it was 85.54% at the old 5 pm day before election cutoff, but another 11,484 ballots came in by the new Friday of election week deadline)

For the military, the ’08 success rate* was 63.74%, but rose to 76.74% in ’12 (73.93% by the old day of election deadline, with another 289 ballots returned by the new 11/15 deadline)

For voters overseas, the ’08 success rate* was 72.23%, but rose to 85.97% in ’12 (83.19% by the old day of election deadline, with another 249 ballots returned by the new 11/15 deadline)

Email balloting was quite popular – 79.88% of overseas voters used email to get their ballot back and forth (plus 0.36% who used FAX transmission), while 57.25% of military used email (plus 0.54% who used FAX transmission)

The table below for 2012 shows each category of ballot and various reasons for lack of success:

civilian % civ mil % mil ovs % ovs
accepted 202870 90.67% 7877 76.74% 7698 85.97%
no ID 202 0.09% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
e-transmission failure 0 0.00% 22 0.21% 4 0.04%
no application 3 0.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
pending 62 0.03% 4 0.04% 10 0.11%
rejected 388 0.17% 23 0.22% 9 0.10%
after deadline 702 0.31% 7 0.07% 7 0.08%
undeliverable 506 0.23% 138 1.34% 16 0.18%
different signature 45 0.02% 0 0.00% 1 0.01%
signed by other 19 0.01% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
unsigned 233 0.10% 14 0.14% 13 0.15%
no witness 554 0.25% 1 0.01% 0 0.00%
not returned 18157 8.12% 2178 21.22% 1196 13.36%
TOTAL 223741 10264 8954
cancel/spoil/not voted 9470 349 326
wrong voter/duplicate
date extension extras 11484 85.54% 289 73.93% 249 83.19%
date extension increase 5.13% 2.82% 2.78%

In terms of gross total of voted absentee ballots in each category comparing 2008 with 2012, civilian by mail was 215,257 in 2008 but down to 202,870 in 2012; military was 8,443 in 2008 but down to 7,877 in 2012;  and overseas was 4,098 in 2008 and way up to 7,698 in 2012.

The analysis above was derived from the North Carolina State Board of Elections absentee vote database (warning 102mb zipped file) compared to similar that I ran in 2008 to see changes in success rates for mail-in absentee voters.

In the table

“No ID” — voter had registered by mail but did not have a drivers license or social security match, did not provide same after being requested by county BoE at registration verification and did not supply with absentee ballot

“e-transmission failure” = military and overseas had ballot rejected by server

“no application” voter neither signed ballot envelope nor had it witnessed

“pending” held administratively due to some problem and not counted

“rejected” rejected by vote of county board of elections for unspecified reason

“after deadline” received back by county after deadline for receipts but before 11/19 final file update

“undeliverable” returned by USPS, military or foreign postal service

“different signature” signature did not match records

“signed by other” signature did not match and appeared to be signed by someone else

“unsigned”  ballot envelope was properly witnessed by not signed by voter

“no witness” ballot envelope was properly signed by voter but was not signed by witness

“not returned” ballot was mailed (or emailed) out but never returned by voter.

* “success rate” excludes ballot in the SPOILED, CANCELED, and NOT VOTED statistical categories of the State Board of Elections are used interchangeably.  SPOILED and CANCELLED categories mean that an absentee application and ballot needed to be reissued to a voter for some reason (either by choice of voter or due to administrative reasons) or the voter decided that they did not want to vote by absentee, or the county found that the voter was not qualified to vote by absentee (e.g., voter registered in a new county or was removed for some other reason (voter died, felony conviction, etc.)). NOT VOTED is a category that is used by some counties to mean that the voter decided not to vote by absentee, or the voter returned a ballot and did not vote it.


military/overseas voters heavy users of email absentee voting

October 8, 2012

As I blogged a few weeks ago,  the 2009 and 2011 regular sessions of the North Carolina General Assembly made major changes in absentee voting for military and overseas voters, including allowing ballots to be sent and received by those voters by email and fax. Long delays in snail mail to military voters and those in other countries had made it hard for those voters to get their ballots back in time to be counted.  Now, with absentee voting having started Friday September 7, data based on requests received through Friday, October 5 show these voting groups are making heavy used of these methods. Over 76% of overseas voters and over 52% of military voters so far have requested that their ballots be sent back and forth as an email attachment.  This should greatly improve the voting success rate for the military and American citizens abroad.  Military and overseas absentee ballots must be received by the local counties by 7:30 pm on election day to be counted, or mailed/transmitted by 11:59 pm on 11/5 and received by 11/15.  Here are the stats as of 10/5:

Military

Email 2880 52.6%

Fax          15  0.3%

Snail   2578 47.1%

TOTAL 5463

—–

Overseas

Email 4147 76.8%

Fax        12    0.3%

Snail   1237  22.9%

TOTAL 5396


1430 different ballots in NC’s 100 counties this November

September 27, 2012

The State Board of Elections has links to all 1430 different sample ballots (also called “ballot styles”) in North Carolina’s 100 counties this fall at http://www.ncsbe.gov/downloads/SampleBallots/2012-11-06/

How do we get 1430 different ballots? : a combination of factors – (i) divided precincts in redistricting, (ii) city and county bond issues and referenda  (iii) three cities and two sanitary districts electing officers, and (iv) county commissioner districts where only the residents of that district vote.

While 22 counties have just one ballot style (Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Bertie, Caldwell, Camden, Currituck, Dare, Davie, Hertford, Jones, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, Northampton, Rutherford, Stanly, Stokes, Tyrrell, Watauga and Yadkin), there are two with over 100 (Guilford -121 and Wake -102). Even some smaller counties have a lot — Granville (44), Nash (54), Rockingham (40), Rowan (46), Vance (46) and Wayne (43)

Wake and Guilford’s totals were increased greatly because of local elections and bond referenda (see my post at http://ncbilldrafting.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/11-counties-9-towns-to-have-referenda-nov-6/ ) and because of divided precincts in redistricting.

 

oh — if you are an NC registered voter and want to see YOUR sample ballot go to

https://www.ncsbe.gov/VoterLookup.aspx

look up your registration and there will be a link to your sample ballot


11 counties, 9 towns to have referenda Nov 6

September 27, 2012

Besides all the stuff everyone knows about being voted on in every county this November, from President down to soil conservation district supervisor, 11 counties and nine municipalities are having referenda, and Archdale, High Point, and Mt Gilead are electing mayors and/or council members. There are also some sanitary districts electing board members.

Here’s the list of the referenda, provided to me by the State Board of Elections:

Alamance ALAMANCE COUNTY SALES TAX
Alamance ALAMANCE COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOND
Buncombe ASHEVILLE WATER SYSTEM SALE/LEASE
Chatham CARY TRANSPORTATION BONDS
Chatham CARY PARKS AND REC FACILITIES BONDS
Chatham CARY FIRE STATION BONDS
Clay CLAY CO STRUCTURE OF BD OF COMMISSIONERS
Edgecombe EDGECOMBE COUNTY SALES TAX
Greene GREENE COUNTY COMMISSIONER BD DISTRICTS
Greene GREENE COUNTY SALES TAX
Harnett HARNETT COUNTY SALES TAX
Lenoir LENOIR COUNTY SALES TAX
Mecklenburg HUNTERSVILLE STREET BONDS
Mecklenburg HUNTERSVILLE PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT BONDS
Mecklenburg HUNTERSVILLE PARKS AND RECREATION BONDS
New Hanover WILMINGTON BASEBALL STADIUM BONDS
New Hanover WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH ORDINANCE
Orange ORANGE COUNTY TRANSIT SALES TAX
Pasquotank PASQUOTANK COUNTY SALES TAX
Scotland SCOTLAND COUNTY SALES TAX
Swain SWAIN COUNTY SALES TAX
Swain SWAIN COUNTY ALTER STRUCTURE OF BD OF COM
Union INDIAN TRAIL PARKS AND REC BONDS
Wake WAKE COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE BONDS
Wake CARY TRANSPORTATION BONDS
Wake CARY PARKS AND RECREATIONAL FACILITIES BONDS
Wake CARY FIRE STATION BONDS
Wake KNIGHTDALE PARK AND REC BONDS
Wake MORRISVILLE PARKS AND REC BONDS
Wake MORRISVILLE STREET IMPROVEMENT BONDS

Additionally, there are contests for Handy Sanitary District (both Davidson and Montgomery) and Whittier Sanitary District (Jackson and Swain).

If you would like to see the verbiage of any or all of these, sample ballots are posted here:http://www.ncsbe.gov/downloads/SampleBallots/2012-11-06/


Email ballots for military and overseas voters wildly popular

September 12, 2012

As I blogged a few weeks ago,  the 2009 and 2011 regular sessions of the North Carolina General Assembly made major changes in absentee voting for military and overseas voters, including allowing ballots to be sent and received by those voters by email and fax. Long delays in snail mail to military voters and those in other countries had made it hard for those voters to get their ballots back in time to be counted.  Now, with absentee voting having started Friday September 7, we already have some data, based on requests received through Tuesday September 11, and those voting groups are making heavy used of these methods. Over 86% of overseas voters and over 51% of military voters so far have requested that their ballots be sent back and forth as an email attachment.  This should greatly improve the voting success rate for the military and American citizens abroad.  Here are the stats as of 9/11:

Military

Email 1553 51.5%

Fax          10  0.3%

Snail   1448 49.2%

TOTAL 3011

—–

Overseas

Email 2111 86.3%

Fax.        5.    0.2%

Snail.    330  13.5%

TOTAL 2446


Our Rosa Kelley started as a state employee in 1950

August 15, 2012

Back in 2007 I wrote a short piece about the 1940s on Halifax Street (the block where the Museums of History and Natural Sciences abut) and mentioned that Rosa Kelley (current Legislative Assistant to Representative Tricia Cotham) lived on that block at 118 Halifax Street beginning in 1944 when she enrolled in Peace College (her parents also lived there). (The linked map is from the 1940s and shows a rail spur where the current LOB is)

I also mentioned in 2007 about several legislative employees who at the time had been employed here since 1965

I was talking to Rosa last week about her long history as a state employee, and here’s her resume which has to be close to a record for longevity with 53 years of service over a 62+ year span:

  1.  Administrative Assistant to Adrian J. Newton, Clerk of the North Carolina Supreme Court, January 1950 to sometime in 1960.
  2.  Steno Pool, North Carolina General Assembly, March 1, 1969 to July 4, 1969 (assigned to Senator Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles and Senator Herman Moore)
  3. State Board of Education 1969-1989, (Administrative Assistant to A. C. Davis who was Controller of the State Board of Education 1969-1978, Supervisor of the Worker’s  Compensation Division 1978 until August 1, 1989.)
  4. Legislative Assistant, North Carolina General Assembly 1989-present, worked for Representative Joni Bowie, Wilma Sherrill, Charles Thomas, and Tricia Cotham. Before becoming permanent also worked in interims for Departments of Revenue and Transportation and North Carolina National Guard.

My new job effective 9/1/12: Special Counsel for the NC General Assembly

August 7, 2012

Effecitve 9/1/2012 I will be Special Counsel for the North Carolina General Assembly, see the announcement linked below. I will continue as Director of Legislative Drafting until a successor is selected. I’ve been on staff at the NCGA since 1977, division director since 1981.

Joint Special Counsel Announcement_8.7.12


What’s an authorizing resolution? An escape valve that’s run out of steam

June 4, 2012

Since 1976 (the second short session) the adjournment resolution of the odd-year North Carolina General Assembly has limited the subjects that can be considered in the even numbered year, but always with the same escape valve: “Any matter authorized by joint resolution passed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the House of Representatives present and voting and by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Senate present and voting.”  This is called in legislative parlance an “authorizing resolution”

For the 1976 short session matters allowed in by passage of such a resolution plus any bill directly affecting the budget were the only items authorized to be considered.  Now, other categories such as bills that had passed one house in the off-year, been recommended by a study, or noncontroversial local bills take up most of the non-budgetary work of the even-year short session.

In fact, since 1999 there have only been two authorizing resolutions passed by the requisite 2/3 vote, down from the common 30 resolutions ratified in many of the short sessions from 1984-1992.  Here’s a count of ratified authorizing resolutions for each short session:

1976   4

1978  22

1980  10

1982 23

1984 38

1986 19

1988 11

1990 30

1992 37

1994 5

1996 7

1998 2

2000 0

2002 1

2004 0

2006 1

2008 0

2010 0

2012 0 (to date)

Why such the sharp drop in authorizing resolutions between 1992 and 1994, and their becoming a nonfactor after that? There’s not even any lore about it. Marc Basnight did become Senate President Pro Tem in 1993 holding that office through 2010, but that may have just been a coincidence.

 


Reviewing absentee ballot reform in NC: 2012 primary shows improvement

May 21, 2012

A quick analysis of raw data for the 2008 and 2012 primaries from the North Carolina State Board of Elections on absentee voting for the primaries shows significant improvement in absentee voters getting their mail-in ballots successfully returned for counting. Comparing 2008 and 2012 primary election turnout showed substantial improvement in voters successfully casting ballots. Civilian ballot success went up from 74.4% to 83.9%, military from 26.8% to 31.4%, and overseas from 44.1% to 45.1%. Those changes are probably largely because of absentee ballot reforms in the 2009 and 2910 session of the NC General Assembly that simplified the process with special aim at military and overseas civilian voters.

The reforms as they applied to the 2012 primary (i) cut the number of witnesses required for absentee voters from 2 to 1, and (ii)  provided that rather than having to be received by the day BEFORE the election, civilian absentee ballots must be postmarked by election day and received by the Friday after the election, and military and overseas ballots have to be received by the day before the county canvass (making this year’s deadline 6 days after the primary). For the 2012 general election ballots will go out 60 days before the election, 10 days earlier than in 2008.

Here are some comparables with the numbers showing ballot applications received and ballots successfully cast:

===========

CIVILIAN ballots from the 50 states + DC

2008 primary 23,576 of 31,699 74.4% success rate

2012 primary civilian 20,312 of 24,199 83.9% success rate, but of those 1,834 were received during the Tuesday-Friday extension, if the old deadline had applied the success rate would have been 76.4%.

Thus for civilians there was a slight improvement by the old return deadline, but the extended period substantially increased the chance a voter’s ballot was successfully cast.

===========

MILITARY

2008 primary 1,043 of 3,892, a 26.8% success rate

2012 primary  584 of 1,858,  a 31.4% success rate, but of those 89 were received during the six-day extension, if the old deadline had applied the success rate would have been 26.6%.

Of note is the sharp drop in military applications between 2008 and 2012, possibly because of a reduction in overseas and other deployments during the 4-year interval.

While the overall success rate in the 2012 primary for military voters was 31.4%, 581 ballots were mailed out automatically to voters who had voted by mail in 2010, and the success rate there was 19.4%. Probably accounting for the low return rate is the inability go get mail delivered to military personnel with 2 year old addresses and discharges of military service perssonel in the two-year gap. Of military voters who applied for ballots in 2012, 36.9% were successful in getting their ballots counted.

=============

OVERSEAS CIVILIAN

2008 primary 450 of 1,021, a 44.1% success rate

2012 primary  661 of 1,466,  a 45.1% success rate, but of those 94 were received during the six-day extension, if the old deadline had applied the success rate would have been 38.7%.

==============

Interesting were some of the reasons that the 3,872 civilian ballots that were sent out were not counted. While 3,014 were mailed out and simply not returned, here are some of the noted reasons boards of elections noted that the ballots did not count:

221 cancelled at request of voter (maybe the voter decided to vote in person?)

82 received by May 9-11 but not postmarked by May 8.

58 returned undeliverable by the USPS

148 ballot envelope not signed by voter

56 ballot envelope not signed by witness

288 spoiled ballots (returned by voter with a request for a replacement ballot)

50 rejected by county board of elections (reasons not specified)

23 returned by the voter with notation that they did not want to vote


Absentee voting reform kicks in

March 13, 2012

After various national studies showed abysmal success rates for military and overseas absentee voters in 2006 and 2008, several pieces of legislation have worked reforms in North Carolina’s process since 2008. Those reforms kicked in partially in 2010 and are being fully implemented for 2012. Absentee ballot mailout for the May 8 primary begins next Monday, March 19, 2012.

First, the 2009 legislative session passed Senate Bill 253 which (i) cut the number of witnesses required for absentee voters from 2 to 1, (ii) provided for ballots to be sent out 60 days before the general election, rather than 50 (it remains 50 for the primary) and (iii) provided that rather than having to be received by the day BEFORE the election, civilian absentee ballots must be postmarked by election day and received by the Friday after the election, and military and overseas ballots have to be received by the Friday after the election (no postmark required for military ballots because military mail tends to NOT use postmarks) — thus extending the back end of the process by 4 days in all elections, and the front end by 10 days in general elections. The 2009 legislation was in part prompted by Congressional consideration and enactment of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act which required states to make reforms in military voting for federal elections.

Second, the 2010 session passed House Bill 614 which ended the practice of automatically sending out ballots to all military voters who had voted in the prior election, return rates were abysmal befause two year old military addresses were in the most case useless. In 2008 just 169 of 1169 military absentee ballots requested prior to 12/31/2007 were voted (14.4%),  compared with a 67% return rate for military personnel who applied after the start of the absentee voting period and a 74% success rate for civilian absentee voting in general.  The 2010 legislation did “grandfather in” military who voted in 2010 so they will still get ballots in 2012, but that process ends after this year.

Third, the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State laws prumulgated late in 2010 the Uniform Military and Absentee Voters Act,  which North Carolina adopted unanimously in both houses by House Bill 514 sponsored by the two current members of the General Assembly then in the military, Representatives Ric Killian and Grier Martin. That bill streamlined the military and overseas absentee voting process, allowed for electronic transmission, and extended the return date for military and absentee voters to the day before the county canvass — this means in the 2012 primary military and overseas ballots will be counted if received by Monday May 14 (six days after the election) and in the general election they will be counted if received by Thursday, November 15, nine days after the election. The deadline for in country civilian ballots will continue to be three days after the election as set in the 2009 reform. The Uniform law has now been enacted in six states (CO, NC, ND, NV, OK and UT) and in the District of Columbia.

Now, for some stats:

In 2008, there were 37,214 mail-in absentee ballots requested for the primary, of which 26,034 were successfully voted (69.96%).  31,698 of the requests were from in-country civilians, with a 74.4% success rate, 4494 were from military voters with a 44.35% success rate, and 1022 were from overseas voters, with a 44.42% success rate. As mentioned above, only 14.4% of the military ballots requsted prior to 12/31/2007 were succesfully voted.

In 2008, on the first day of mailout (50 days before the primary) 7,735 ballots were mailed out. Next week we will be able to see how many ballots are going out first day, Monday March 19, 2012.

I will try to keep up with this during and after the primary and general election process.


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