Election Tech Tuesday: Survey of Election Officials Reveals Long-Term Concerns With Voting Equipment

Election Tech Tuesday

This Election Data Dispatch series explores emerging issues in elections technology and their relationship to the future of voting and civic engagement in America.

Survey of Election Officials Reveals Long-Term Concerns With Voting Equipment

In the summer and fall of 2013, political scientists Stephen Ansolabehere, Harvard, Daron Shaw, University of Texas at Austin, and Charles Stewart, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, conducted a national survey of local election officials for the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. Their overview of the findings provides a framework for understanding what the commission called the “impending crisis in voting technology.”

The survey, which asked local officials to identify their recent election technology purchases, revealed that:

  • 55 percent did not make a major purchase in the previous year.
  • 7 percent bought electronic poll books.
  • 6 percent purchased voting equipment.

Officials were also asked to choose up to three aspects of the 2012 election that went especially well in their jurisdictions. The most consistently selected category—by 31 percent of respondents—was “voting technology and voting machine capacity.” But officials also most frequently named this category as the area that will be “in significant need of improvement or an upgrade” during the next five to 10 years (24 percent of respondents).

The survey solicited data and opinions from the 7,779 local election officials in the United States. The response rate was 40 percent and represented every state except Wyoming.

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