Dari Sylvester and Colleagues Score Pew Grant
Professor Dari Sylvester leads a team of Pacific scholars, including fellow Political Scientist Bob Benedetti and Communication Department chair Qingwen Dong, that has been awarded a $45,000 grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Make Voting Work project. The Pacific team will use the grant for a study called Toward Higher Voting Accuracy, Efficiency and Integrity: Reducing Ballot Error and Understanding the Impact of Vote by Mail Alternatives
This project proposes to investigate at considerable depth patterns of voter error for both in-person voting and voting by mail. In addition, it offers a detailed look at participation in vote-by-mail (VBM) programs, examining if they advantage certain voters and why some choose not to participate in them. The proposed study builds on a special partnership between a university and a county registrar of voters. Specifically, a group of scholars at the University of the Pacific working in concert with the Registrar of Voters of San Joaquin County conducted a unique Voter Education field experiment in an effort to reduce voter error, improve poll worker training, and increase voting by mail (absentee voting) over three elections: the Presidential Primary, State Primary, and General Election of 2008 in California. A three-wave telephone survey research campaign is being conducted in order to assess the success of a Voter Education campaign as well as to uncover the attitudes of voters towards VBM. In addition, access to all discounted ballots, held by the Registrar of Voters, will make analysis of patterns by precincts and vote by mail balloting possible. Given a mixed field experimental and content analysis approach to the research, access to Registrar of Voters materials and the three waves of election data collected, this project presents a unique opportunity for electoral research that will provide rigorous and reliable answers to vexing questions relating to voter error and voting by mail.