Analysis

Some States Struggle to Collect and Report Elections Data

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[I]t has become the norm for businesses that are concerned about customer service to gather and analyze performance data at the point of contact with customers. The parallel “big data” revolution is transforming management in many areas of the private and public sector. Despite the fact that elections drown in data, and political campaigns have transformed American politics by gathering and analyzing data about their supporters, election administration has largely escaped this data revolution.-Presidential Commission on Election Administration, The American Voting Experience, January 2014

Earlier this year, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration identified the pressing need to improve the quality and depth of elections data collected by state and local jurisdictions. Pew will soon release its 2012 Elections Performance Index, which relies heavily on such data, including those collected by the Election Assistance Commission and its biannual Election Administration and Voting Survey, or EAVS.

In 2013, Pew contacted election officials in every state to confirm the accuracy of data submitted through the EAVS and noted the challenges of ensuring that complete and accurate data are reported in the survey. Pew released a state snapshot examining the process of verifying early voting data in Texas. This was one of many instances in which verifying the EAVS data with state election officials was difficult because of inaccurate or missing information. 

Many states worked closely with Pew to confirm their data or provide updates. This process gave some election officials the opportunity to identify software problems and correct programming to report accurate data.

Some states, however, were unable to verify their information because the state claimed no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the data submitted by the localities. Others could not determine why inaccurate or incomplete data were reported in the EAVS but were able to provide updated data to Pew.

The Elections Performance Index will be released April 8 and will provide public access to the updated EAVS data that Pew verified with state election officials.

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