New Data on Lines at the Polls

New Data on Lines at the Polls

The long lines at polling places have been a hot topic in election administration since November, and data presented at Pew’s Voting in America conference today sheds new light on this issue.

Charles Stewart III, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, shared preliminary results from the 2012 Survey of the Performance of American Elections. The Pew-funded survey focuses entirely on issues related to election administration and was first administered in 2008. This year, the survey asked 10,200 people nationally—200 in each state and the District of Columbia—how long they waited to vote during early voting and on Election Day, among many other questions.

The early numbers paint a picture which is not that different from 2008:

  • 36 percent of voters reported not waiting in line at all in 2012 compared with 42 percent in 2008;
  • 13 percent of voters reported waiting more than 30 minutes compared with 14 percent in 2008;
  • In 2012 lines on average were longer for early voting than they were on Election Day, with reported wait times of 20 minutes and 13 minutes, respectively. Similarly, in 2008, voters reported waiting an average of 20 minutes for early voting and 15 minutes on Election Day; and
  • As in 2008, voters in Florida, Maryland, South Carolina, and Virginia faced some of the longest average wait times in 2012, averaging nearly 50 minutes in Florida, more than 30 minutes in Maryland, and more than 25 minutes in South Carolina and Virginia.

Final and comprehensive data will be released in the near future.

 Listen to an audio clip of Stewart’s presentation about long lines:

The front facade of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, DC.
ian-hutchinson-U8WfiRpsQ7Y-unsplash.jpg_master

Agenda for America

A collection of resources to help federal, state, and local decision-makers set an achievable agenda for all Americans

Quick View

Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for emerging challenges, it makes government more effective and better able to serve the public interest. In the coming months, President Joe Biden and the 117th Congress will tackle a number of environmental, health, public safety, and fiscal and economic issues—nearly all of them complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To help solve specific, systemic problems in a nonpartisan fashion, Pew has compiled a series of briefings and recommendations based on our research, technical assistance, and advocacy work across America.

Lightbulbs
Lightbulbs

States of Innovation

Data-driven state policy innovations across America

Quick View

Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for difficult challenges. When states serve their traditional role as laboratories of innovation, they increase the American people’s confidence that the government they choose—no matter the size—can be effective, responsive, and in the public interest.