No Newspoll this week it seems – which is unfortunate, because a report in New York Times ($) suggests coronavirus lockdowns are doing wonders for opinion poll response rates:
Even in online surveys, pollsters have also seen an increase in participation over the past few weeks. At the Pew Research Center, which does most of its polling through the online American Trends Panel, many respondents filled in a voluntary-comments box in a recent survey with expressions of gratitude.
It is inferred that “a wider variety of people are willing to tell pollsters what they think, so it’s more likely that a poll’s respondents will come closer to reflecting the makeup of the general population.”
Coronavirus is rather less conducive to the staging of actual elections, the latest casualty being the May 30 date that was set for Tasmania’s Legislative Council seats of Huon Rosevears, which was itself a postponement from the traditional first Saturday of the month. The government has now invoked a recently legislated power to set the date for a yet-to-be-determined Saturday in June, July and August. The Tasmanian Electoral Commission has expressed the view that a fully postal election, as some were advocating, did not count as an election under the state’s existing Electoral Act.
Tasmania and other jurisdictions with elections looming on their calendars might perhaps look to South Korea, which proceeded with its legislative elections on Wednesday. As reported in The Economist ($):
All voters will have their temperature taken before entering their polling station (those found to have fever or other symptoms will be directed to a separate polling booth). They will also have to wear a face mask, sanitise their hands and put on vinyl gloves before picking up a ballot paper and entering the booth. Election stewards will ensure people keep away from each other while queueing and voting. Door knobs, pencils and ballot boxes will be sterilised often.
Other than that, I can offer the following in the way of recommended reading: Antony Green’s post calling for pre-poll votes to be counted under wraps on election day starting from 2pm. This would address issues arising from the huge imbalance between election day booths, only one of which processed more than 4000 votes at the May 2019 federal election, and the three weeks’ accumulation of votes cast at pre-poll booths, of which 901 cleared 4000 votes, including 208 that went above 10,000 and ten with more than 20,000 (UPDATE: Make that 370 of more than 4000 and 208 of more than 10,000 – turns out the numbers in the table are cumulative). The result is that the largest pre-poll booths are not reporting until very late at night, many hours after the last trickles of election booths runs dry.
This has sometimes caused election counts to take on different complexions at the end of the evening — to some extent at the Victorian state election in November 2018, which ended a little less catastrophic for the Liberals than the election day results suggested, and certainly at the Wentworth by-election the previous month, when Liberal candidate Dave Sharma briefly rose from the dead in his struggle with the ultimately victorious Kerryn Phelps. It is noted that pre-poll votes in New Zealand are counted throughout election day itself, which is made practical by a ban on any election campaigning on the day itself, freeing up party volunteers for scrutineering who in Australia would be staffing polling booths.
Antony also argues against reducing the pre-poll period from three weeks to two, for which there has been quite a broad push since last year’s election, as it will lead to greater demand for the less secure option of postal voting, stimulated by the efforts of the political parties.
Also note my extensive post below on recent events in Wisconsin – you are encouraged to use that thread if you have something to offer specifically on American politics.