Elections Performance Index Shows Improvement on Some Policies Highlighted by Presidential Commission

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Pew released the 2012 edition of the Elections Performance Index, or EPI, in April 2014, enabling comparisons of election administration from 2008 to 2012.

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration’s report, which was released earlier this year, echoes many of the indicators used in the index. State performance on several of the commission’s recommended policies changed between the two elections:

RECOMMENDATION: Reduce the time that voters wait in line at the polls.

ANALYSIS:The index evaluates states on a survey measure of the average time voters reported waiting in line on Election Day.

  • From 2008 to 2012, the national average wait time to vote decreased nearly three minutes, to approximately 12 minutes.
  • The national averages obscure great variation among the states. The highest average wait time in 2008 was 61.5 minutes in South Carolina, and in 2012 it was 45 minutes in Florida.

RECOMMENDATION: Improve election accessibility for voters with disabilities.

ANALYSIS:The EPI evaluates states on the proportion of survey respondents who reported that they were unable to vote due to an illness or disability.

  • This rate decreased from a national average of 16.2 percent in 2008 to 15.8 percent in 2012.
  • The District of Columbia had the highest rate of nonvoting due to disability in both years.
  • There is a great deal of regional variation on this measure. The average rate across both presidential elections was 19 percent in the South, 17.7 percent in the Northeast, 14.4 percent in the Midwest, and 12.4 percent in the West.

RECOMMENDATION: Collect and distribute better data on the conduct of elections.

ANALYSIS:The index evaluates states on the percent of data they provide to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

  • The national average rate of completeness for the data points measured by the EPI improved from 86.4 percent in 2008 to 95.4 percent in 2012.
  • 18 states and the district reported 100 percent complete data in 2012. This is an improvement from seven states in 2008 but still far from the level needed to thoroughly assess state and local election administration.

RECOMMENDATION: Offer statewide online voter registration.

ANALYSIS:The index measures whether states have implemented online registration systems.

  • 13 states offered online registration in 2012, up from only two in 2008.

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