Monthly Archives: September 2005

Cook County, IL

Cook County 2004

Cook County 2000

The Chicago metropolitan area, including Cook County and the surrounding five counties (Lake, Kane, McHenry, DuPage, and Will) dominates the state with 65.5% of the population. Winning this region goes a long way towards adding the state’s 21 electoral votes to one’s column. With the well-documented rural-urban split of support between Republicans and Democrats, Illinois poses a particular challenge for Republicans to overcome the heavily urban Chicago area. In 2004, Kerry won Illinois handily (55% to 44%), carrying Cook County 1,439,724 to 597,405 – a margin of almost 850,000 votes (41 percentage points!). Bush won the net returns from all the remaining Illinois Counties 1,748,541 to 1,451,826, a margin of about 300,000 votes – a figure that falls well short of overcoming Kerry’s 41 point margin in Cook County.

The trend in Illinois is also not good for the Repulicans. Although Bush increased his percentage in Illinois as a whole between 2000 and 2004 from 42.6% to 44.5% (or 1.9 points), this figure is a full point below his national average (to 50.7% from 47.8% or 2.9 points). In Cook County, Bush’s share of the vote fell one half of a percentage point to 28.7%. The decrease in popularity coupled with an increase in turout added almost 100,000 votes to the Democratic margin between 2000 and 2004. In addition, Bush lost six of the suburban townships in 2004 that he won in 2000 (he didn’t win any that he lost in 2000). Only two townships increased Bush’s margin between 2000 and 2004 (Orland and Lemont – two of the furthest townships from Chicago – in the southwest portion of Cook County).

The Atlas is in the proces of adding additional precinct and township data for Illinois in 2004. DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Sangamon are now available (in addition to Cook) for those interested in further study.

Neutral Election Administration

The previous entry highlighted a number of the top recommendations put forth by the Commission on Federal Election Reform. Section 6 deals with Election Administration; the report recommends five specific actions (abbreviated):

  • The reconstitution of election management institutions on a nonpartisan basis to make them more independent and effective. U.S. Election Assistance Commission members and each state’s chief elections officer should be selected and be expected to act in a nonpartisan manner, and the institutions should have sufficient funding for research and trainig and to conduct the best elections possible.
  • Congress should approve legislation that would add a fifth member to the U.S Election Assistance Commission, who would serve as the EAC’s chairperson and who would be nominated by the President based on capability, integrity, and nonpartisanship.
  • Shates should prohibit senior election officials from serving or assisting political campaigns in a partisan way, other than their own campaigns in states where they are elected
  • States should make existing election bodies as nonpartisan as possible within the constraints of each states’s constitution. Among the ways this might be accomplished would be if the individuals who serve as the state’s chief elections officer were chosen based on their capability, integrity, and nonpartisanship. The state legislatures would need to confirm these individuals by a two-thirds majority on one or both houses.
  • Each state’s chief elections officer should, to the extent reasonably possible, ensure uniformity of voting procedures throughout the state, as with provisional ballots.

Overall, I find this to be one of the most important recommendations: confidence in fair election administration can not be maintained if staunch partisan officers are in charge of the elections. Such a situation consitutes an obvious conflict-of-interest.

Report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform

The Commission on Federal Election Reform, a twenty-one member commission co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker III, has released its report, Building Confidence in U.S. Elections.

The commission was organized by American University’s Center for Democracy and Election Management and hearings began on April 18, 2005 with the goal of putting forth a set of recommendations to raise confidence in the electoral system. The report, released on September 19, 2005, “recommends a modern electoral system built on five pillars: (1) a universal and up-to-date registration list, accessible to the public; (2) a uniform voter identification system that is implemented in a way that increases, not impedes, participation; (3) measures to enhance ballot integrity and voter access; (4) a voter-verifiable paper trail and improved security of voting systems; and (5) electoral institutions that are impartial, professional, and independent.

The document puts forward 87 specific recommendations; the top items are:

  • The implementation of a universal voter registration system where states (instead of local jurisdictions such as county or township) are responsible for the accuracy and quality of voter lists. This recommendation includes the proposal of a distributed database in which the registration lists can be shared interstate.
  • Creation of a uniform system of voter identification based on an identification card. This includes the recommendation that states issue free photo-id cards in an affirmative role to those without a driver’s license
  • Addition of measures to increase voter participation by asking states to assume a greater responsibility to register citizens, make voting more convenient, offer more information on registration lists and voting, host civic education programs, and more.
  • The inclusion of an auditable backup on paper for electronic voting systems in order to provide confidence that ballots cast using these machines are counted accurately.
  • The strengthening and restructuring of the system by which elections have been administered in the country through a reconstitution of the EAC and state election agencies on a non-partisan basis.

In addition to the main points, there are many other specific recommendations, including:

  • A proposal that the media improve coverage of election by providing longer candidate discourse – at least five minutes – each night in the month preceding the election
  • Ask that media voluntarily refrain from projecting presidential election results until polls close in the 48 contiguous states
  • States provide unrestricted access toll legitimate domestic and international election observers.
  • Changing the Presidential Primary schedule by creating four regional primaries
  • For states to certify their presidential election prior to the “safe harbor” date. In addition, for states to enact new statutes to ensure that its resolution of all election disputes are given conclusive effect by Congress under United States Code

Overall, the report has an extensive and relatively comprehensive list of very practical changes. Further entries will discuss some of these in more detail.

Gubernatorial Elections 2005

As the off-year general election approaches, I’ve added the 2001 Gubernatorial Election results to the special Gubernatorial section. Only two states hold elections for the top statewide executive office in the year after the Presidential Election (Virginia and New Jersey). Subsequent to the casting of ballots on November 8, 2005, the Atlas will add the two states’ returns for Governor. Pictured above right is the county-wide map of returns for Governor for the Commonwealth of Virginia in the 2001 Gubernatorial Election where Democrat Mark Warner defeated Republican Mark Earley 52% to 47%. (Democratic wins in Red, Republican in Blue)

Mississippi Amended Certification

In March of 2005, the Secretary of State of Mississippi signed an Amended Certification of the “whole number of votes given in each county for Presidential Electors for each candidate in the November 2, 2004, General Election for the offices of President and Vice-President of the United States of America”. This amended certification corrected the well-documented error in Lowndes County (the total shown on the County Recapitulation sheet for Bush truncated the final zero giving Bush 1,369 votes instead of actual sum of 13,690 votes). The amended certification also corrected a data shift error in the DeSoto Official Recapitulation sheet that occured in Bridgetown Precinct. This error gave 331 votes to Harris, 3 to Kerry, 1 to Nader and 0 to Peroutka. Shifting the data to the correct figures gives 0 to Harris, 331 to Kerry, 3 to Nader, and 1 to Peroutka. The state-wide totals are adjusted accordingly and may be seen on the Mississippi Summary Results for 2004.