Colorado legislators are contemplating changes to their election laws this week that may result in higher turnout. A report issued by Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler figures prominently in the deliberations, which triumphantly touts “the most successful (election) in Colorado history,” implying that no changes are needed. However, claims in the report that Colorado’s voter turnout increased compared to 2008, while turnout declined elsewhere are not supported by the facts. I reassess the report with the best available data — my United States Elections Project — which the Colorado Secretary of State’s office analyzed selectively. With Colorado considering changes to its election laws, policy makers should make their decisions with the most accurate information.
The Colorado Secretary of State issued their “2012 General Election Review: A Colorado Success Story” on February 7, 2013. My voter turnout statistics disseminated through the United States Elections Project are cited as the source for the 2008 election and preliminary reports from the New York Times are cited as a source for the 2012 election, as are my statistics — but only where they are compared favorably.
Analyzing these statistics, the Secretary of State asserts that Colorado’s turnout rate increased by 1.8 percentage points, while turnout rates nationally and among swing states decreased, by 6.8 and 1.2 percentage points, respectively.
The Secretary of State’s office did not need to analyze preliminary 2008 reports from the New York Times, which can be subject to error as they are often projected from incomplete election night reporting. By the time the Secretary of State’s office issued the report, my 2012 turnout rate statistics were available and a picture of Colorado’s and the nation’s turnout had emerged. Indeed, on p.2 of the report, United States Elections Project 2012 turnout rates are cited to claim — inaccurately — that Colorado had the highest voting-eligible turnout rate as a percentage of total ballots counted.
Full Article: Michael P. McDonald: Reassessing Colorado’s Turnout.