Maryland Research Provides Tool to Reduce Voter Wait Times

Researchers at the Schaefer Center for Public Policy published a report featuring the results of a simulation of voting wait times in Maryland during the 2012 election. 

The simulation was used to prepare summaries for all of Maryland’s 46 early voting centers and 1,850 Election Day precincts, educating election administrators about the length of lines and wait times every half-hour throughout the day.

Tracking voter wait times systematically across polling places is an ongoing challenge for election administrators, and Maryland’s simulation is an excellent new tool for anticipating staff and resource needs that could lead to shorter waits. Pew’s Elections Performance Index—using data from the Survey of the Performance of American Elections—estimated that Maryland had some of the longest waits in the country in 2012, an average of 29.2 minutes, up from 24.5 minutes in 2008. 

The Schaefer Center report found that early voters experienced longer delays than Election Day voters and that jurisdictions with longer ballots were more likely to experience long lines at the polls.

Election administrators can prepare for some of the factors that contribute to long waits, such as ballot length. Other variables—the timing of voters arriving at the polls, for instance—are less predictable, but attention to historical trends in voter arrival patterns can help administrators allocate machines and personnel at the polls to minimize lines.

This research was completed on behalf of the Maryland State Board of Elections in response to a legislative mandate.

Follow us on Twitter using #electiondata and get the latest data dispatches, research, and news by subscribing today.

Spotlight on Mental Health

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies


Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.