United States Elections Project

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2012 Early Voting Statistics

Back by popular demand.


2010 Early Voting Statistics

Trends in early voting provide signs and portents to election outcomes and turnout in the 2010 election.


Written Testimony to the U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee on Mail Balloting

At the request of the U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee, I prepared this written testimony on mail balloting for a May 5, 2010 hearing.


Does High Voter Enthusiasm Signal High Turnout in 2010?

A recent Gallup/USA Today poll finds that voter enthusiasm for the 2010 midterm election is near levels more typically experienced in presidential elections. I discuss what this may mean for turnout in the 2010 midterm elections.


Originally posted at Pollster.com, where I am a regular contributor.

Estimated County Population Changes, 2000-2008

This preview of the census suggests some dramatic changes to representation in the U.S. House and state legislatures across the country.


Posted Saturday, March 13, 2010

Voter Preregistration Report

Preregistration is a policy that permits young persons to register when they are as young as age 16 so that they are ready to vote when they become voting age. A report on prepregistration programs in Florida and Hawaii - the two states that have run preregistration programs prior to the 2008 election - is now available here. The report finds that these states preregister tens of thousands of eligible young people who remain on the voter rolls at rates comparable to the adult population. Preregistration appears to have a modest positive stimulative effect on voter turnout. Recommendations on implementation of preregistration programs are made based on interviews with Florida and Hawaii election administrators.

Read more....

Posted Friday, November 20, 2009

Midwest Mapping Project and Other Redistricting Resources

An electronic version of the Midwest Mapping Project is now available. The report examines the potential effects of the application of redistricting criteria to congressional and state legislative districts in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. In summary, the report shows that seemingly-neutral redistricting criteria have predictable political and racial representation effects that vary among congressional and state legislative districts, even within the same state.

Also available here are video clips of a redistricting public education forum held on Oct. 22, 2009 in Chicago, along with other redistricting resources.


Posted Friday, November 20, 2009

A Proactive Bailout for the Voting Rights Act

In response to the recent NAMUDNO v Holder decision, I argue in this The American Prospect blog post that Congress needs to amend the Voting Rights Act to provide for "proactive" bailout, i.e., that the Department of Justice should review which jurisdictions are eligible for escape from coverage of Section 5 of the Act. This argument and some of the key concepts discussed in the Supreme Court's NAMUDNO deliberations - particularly which jurisdictions would be currently covered if the nearly 40 year old voter participation coverage formula is updated - I first articulated in:

Michael P. McDonald. 2006. "Who's Covered?  Section 4 Coverage Formula and Bailout."  In The Future of the Voting Rights Act, David Epstein, Richard H. Pildes, Rodolfo O. de la Garza, and Sharyn O'Halloran, eds.  New York, NY: Russell Sage Publications.


Posted Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2008 Current Population Survey

The 2008 Current Population Survey, Voting and Registration Supplement data have been released. There are plenty of interesting patterns to observe in this survey, which is the best source for demographic characteristics of the electorate. However, I note that the CPS reports a slight decline in turnout from 2004, which I attribute to survey methodology errors. I do not believe that these errors greatly undermine the usefulness of the 2008 survey.


Posted Sunday, April 5, 2009

2008 Voter Registration Statistics

In 2008, the nation experienced a 5.4% increase in registration over 2004, from 177.4 million to 187.0 million registrants. Statistics from the twenty-nine states that have partisan voter registration suggest that the national increase came primarily from Independents and Democrats. Among these twenty-nine states, the number of registrants identifying with the Democratic Party increased 10.8%, compared to 0.5% for Republicans and 12.0% for Independents.

Read more... 

Posted Friday, March 6, 2009

(Nearly) Final 2008 Early Voting Statistics

Approximately 30% of all votes cast in the 2008 general election were cast prior to Election Day. The statistics and some of the nitty-gritty details behind them can be found here...

Read more... 

Posted Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Return of the Voter: Voter Turnout in the 2008 Presidential Election

I discuss voter turnout in the long term, increases and decreases among the states from 2004, and some notable trends in the way in which Americans vote in this recap of voter turnout in the 2008 presidential election published in The Forum, an on-line political science journal.

Read more... 

Posted Sunday, January 11, 2009

2008 Virginia Election Administration Survey

To understand how Virginia’s elections are run the Voter Registrars Association of Virginia in consultation with George Mason University Associate Professor Michael McDonald and PhD student Matthew Thornburg conducted a survey of the Commonwealth’s local general registrars and electoral board members on issues such as workload, human resources, administrative resources, training and conducting elections. This report offers a sobering assessment of pressing needs facing Virginia's election administrators in terms of basic support such as adequate staff and office space to an ad hoc framework for providing training, compensation and job definitions.

Read more... 

Posted Monday, January 5, 2009

Final 2008 Turnout Rates

All states have now reported their official or certified votes for president. There are some minor outstanding details that may lead to revision of some state numbers slightly upwards. My national turnout rate for those eligible to vote is 61.6% or 131.3 million ballots cast for president. This represents an increase of 1.5 percentage points over the 60.1% turnout rate of 2004.


Posted Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008

Pew Charitable Trust Report: Data for Democracy

The Pew Charitable Trusts "Make Voting Work Project" has released a new report with suggestions on how to improve election administration. You can read my contribution on voter registration databases in this report.


Posted Monday, Dec. 8, 2008

Early Voting Stats: Special Encore Georgia Senate Run-off Edition

Sen. Saxby Chambliss will likely be pleased with these early vote numbers in the Georgia Senate run-off election that show substantially fewer women and minorities voting early than in the general election.


Posted Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008; Last Updated Wednesday, Nov. 26

Preliminary 2008 Turnout Rates

My national turnout rate for those eligible to vote is 61.6% or 131.3 million ballots cast for president. This represents an increase of 1.5 percentage points over the 60.1% turnout rate of 2004.


Posted Sunday, Nov. 9, 2008; Last Updated Saturday, Jan. 15, 2009.

Early Voting Stats

Millions of people have already cast their ballot for the 2008 presidential election. I'm going to try my best to keep up with these stats...


Posted Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008, Updated Frequently

Election of a Century?

In a recent Politico op-ed, I argue that the turnout rate in the 2008 election has the potential to be the highest in a century of American politics. Here I elaborate, provide a graphic of turnout rates from 1789-2006 and for those hungry for the numbers, I have a spreadsheet.


Posted Friday, Oct. 17, 2008

Analysis of 2008 New Registrations and Purging in Selected States

Who are those new people being registered to vote? Who are the people being removed from the voter rolls? Some states provide easy access to their statewide voter registration files that permit answers to these questions. An analysis of new registrations in Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio is presented here....


UPDATE: Analysis of new registrations in Nevada now available.

Posted Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008, Updated Friday Oct. 17, 2008

Michael McDonald on World Tour

Not THAT Michael McDonald. Here are a few of the places where you can catch my political commentary in the near future:

  • On Monday, Dec. 1 I am speaking at the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota on the topic of redistricting reform.
  • On Thursday, Dec. 4 I am speaking at a University of Calfornia Washington, DC post-election forum on the topic of voter registration.
  • On Tuesday, Dec. 9 I am speakin at a Pew Charitable Trust "Voting in America" summit at the Newseum in Washington, DC on the topic of early voting.

Demographics of 2004 Voters: Current Population Survey

The past can sometimes be a guide to the future, especially as one attempts to interpret election polls. Often the representativeness of a poll will be criticized on some grounds, such as having too few young people or too many whites. Here, I provide selected demographics of 2004 voters from the Current Population Survey which can help poll consumers to judge for themselves the validity of a poll...


Posted Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2008

New 2000-2006 Turnout Rates and 2008 Voting-Age Population and Voting-Eligible Population Estimates

New voting-eligible population estimates for 2000-2006 and estimates for the 2008 election are now available. Changes to turnout rates from 2000-2006 primarily reflect a change in the way in which I estimate the non-citizen population. Previously, I used the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey to estimate national and state-level non-citizen population. I now use the American Community Survey which is the on-going survey designed to replace the decennial census long form. The long form is where the decennial citizenship estimates have come from in the past, so this change is sensible. One other change of note for 2008 (only) is that I have for the first time estimated the number of overseas citizens by state. This estimate is provided in the accompanying Excel spreadsheet for anyone who wishes to remove this estimate for comparison to previous elections.


Posted Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008