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In initiative campaigns, can interest groups change minds?

Joel Middleton, assistant professor, political science | October 7, 2015

Ballot initiatives legislate on important issues including taxes, spending, law enforcement, education, health care and civil rights. Given the stakes, it is not surprising that vast sums are spent trying to pass or defeat initiatives — amounts that rival the spending on U.S. Presidential campaigns. However, political scientists have been uncertain about whether all that … Continue reading »

If voters of color don’t vote on Tuesday, don’t be surprised

Lisa García Bedolla, chancellor's professor, education and political science, and director of the Institute of Governmental Studies | November 2, 2014

The New York Times recently published a story on the dramatic advances in campaign data analytics since the 2008 election. According to the Times, “modern political campaigns home in on their key voters with drone-like precision, down to the smallest niche — like Prius-driving single women in Northern Virginia who care about energy issues.” The … Continue reading »

When a polling place is someone’s garage, is a ‘redesign’ realistic?

Karin Mac Donald, director, Election Administration Research Center | October 31, 2014

I read with interest a recent opinion piece for WIRED magazine titled “America’s polling places desperately need a redesign.” In it, author Ted Selker — an inventor, design consultant and member of the Accessible Voting Team at UC Berkeley — describes the physical limitations of many polling places across the country (where everything from wheelchair … Continue reading »

Pollworker 101: How a few crazy hats can make our democracy stronger

Karin Mac Donald, director, Election Administration Research Center | October 29, 2014

It’s election season in California, which means that the state’s 58 county Registrar of Voters offices are buzzing with activities – everything from designing, printing and mailing ballots to finalizing voter-registration rolls and ordering precinct supplies. Each task that staff in these offices perform factors into an election’s success, and there’s little-to-no room for error: … Continue reading »

Understanding and curing myopic voting: Why voters focus on the election-year economy

Gabriel Lenz, associate professor of political science | January 28, 2014

By Andrew Healy and Gabriel Lenz In the U.S., we — the voters — elect our presidents using a potentially problematic decision rule: we largely decide who will be president based on the election-year economy (1, 2, 3). If the economy is on an upswing before the election, we usually retain the president or his … Continue reading »

Leave election integrity to chance

Philip Stark, professor of statistics | July 17, 2013

How do we know whether the reported winners of an election really won? There’s no perfect way to count votes. To paraphrase Ulysses S. Grant and Richard M. Nixon, “Mistakes will be made.” Voters don’t always follow instructions. Voting systems can be mis-programmed, as they were last year in Palm Beach, Florida. Ballots can be … Continue reading »

Elections should be won on policy

Somerset Perry, Berkeley Law alumnus | March 4, 2013

On Wednesday (Feb. 27, 2013) the Supreme Court heard arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, a lawsuit brought by an Alabama county challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act was originally passed in 1965 to protect minorities against the heinous discriminatory electoral practices that were the norm in … Continue reading »

Our gerrymandered (and proud of it!) majority and other ploys

Somerset Perry, Berkeley Law alumnus | January 25, 2013

After the Tea Party sweep in 2010, a group of Rust Belt states that voted for Obama in 2008 and then in 2012 were left with state governments completely controlled by Republicans: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. Since then, Republicans in those states have become increasingly brazen in their attempts to sue their (flukey) … Continue reading »

Voting at your polling place: Answers to some common questions

Bonnie E. Glaser, former research specialist, Election Administration Research Center | November 5, 2012

Registration and voting in California is by county.  You must cast your vote in the county in which you are registered.  The last day to register (or re-register if you moved, changed your name, etc) was October 22, 2012.  For the first time Californians could register online up until midnight on the 22nd. 1. To … Continue reading »

Voting violence

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | July 25, 2012

One of the simmering issues of the political summer is the court battle over voter identification laws in many Republican-governed states. Requirements that voters present photo IDs, such as drivers’ licenses, and other constraints, such as curtailing early voting, promise to reduce the number of poor, elderly, and minority voters in those states. One of … Continue reading »

Virtuous voting

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | June 21, 2012

As the 2012 campaigns start to accelerate, they strive to motivate their supporters – to get them off their passive posteriors, get them to talk up the party candidates, and at least get them to vote. Political scientists and political practitioners have learned that American elections, with their abysmal turnouts, are typically won not by … Continue reading »

Sanity or fear? We decide.

Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology | November 2, 2010

Today is election day. Elections are about numbers: who wins the most votes? So it seems like a good time to think about two sets of numbers: one the number of voters, registered and likely; the other, the number of people who mobilized this past Saturday in response to a call from two comedians who … Continue reading »