Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Absentee Vote Panic Attack

Let's say, hypothetically, that 5% of the absentee ballots don't get turned in on time, but people still want to vote. Perhaps they just wanted the option of voting absentee, so they asked for a ballot. 5% of 1.2 million is 60,000 provisional ballots based on absentee voter ballot applications. Given that absentee ballots can arrive as late as Nov. 14, and that absentee ballots trump subsequent provisional ballots (I think, help me out, here...), those 60,000 votes might have to stay in limbo for the entire ten days in which a valid absentee ballot could arrive. That's close to 1% of the expected number of total votes. A margin of less than 1% either way in the presidential election in Ohio is quite conceivable. And I just pulled 5% out of a hat. If the number is ten percent, we're looking at the margin of Bush over Kerry in 2004.

That hypothesized 1% is in addition to provisionals based on residency/registration/ID issues, which have accounted for 2-3% of votes cast in recent elections, although many of those can be cleared up more quickly, and one could expect some overlap. In fact, there are possibly people who will move during October and cast a provisional ballot at their new address, after requesting an absentee ballot from their old address, leading to both ballots being challenged on residency grounds.

And, of course, you'll remember recounts in Bev Campbell's and Mary Jo Kilroy's races two years ago. There's more than one race on the ballot.

I think I need a hug.

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