Can the early vote tell us anything?
Essentially, I asked for the same data files that the state sends campaigns on a daily basis. We’re getting two lists:
1) those who are on Utah’s list to get a ballot, and
2) now that they’ve received them, those who have already turned them in and had their votes processed.
For the campaigns, the data files are the information needed to call, text, and send mailers to registered active Utah voters. Once people have voted, they generally stop the barrage.
For us at The Salt Lake Tribune, though, it’s a way to better understand Utah’s electorate and, importantly, those who have already voted. It’s still early in the game — some counties have yet to process any ballots, and overall, we’ve seen about 10-15% of them counted at this point — but the hope is that we’ll be able to pick up geographic and party trends to give us hints at the voting so far.
These files, I should note, do not include info from anyone who chose to keep their information private when registering. About 80% of voters kept their information public, though, so we’re getting the majority of the electorate.
Interesting, right? This is just a first crack at the data, though. Moving forward, we’ll break Utah’s early vote down by city, congressional district and more. We’ll also be able to compare these votes to what happened in previous elections.
Finally, we’re also going to keep track of some failure points in voting — how many mail-in votes weren’t counted, and why the state says they didn’t pass muster.
It’s still very early, of course: online mail-in registration doesn’t end until Friday, and voters can even register on Election Day in person. We’ll be sure to keep you informed over the next two weeks.