Last week, the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) convened its first national data summit, focusing on the collection and use of election administration data. Since 2004, the EAC has collected and reported national, state, and local elections administration data every two years via the Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS) instrument.
The summit, held at American University in Washington, featured two days of panels, presentations, and roundtable discussions by dozens of public officials, researchers, and industry experts. Topics of focus included:
- Translating data into cost savings, operational efficiencies, and improved voter experiences.
- Leveraging interagency data sharing and outside data sources.
- Developing new methodologies and tools for assessing and predicting important data, such as turnout, to better allocate resources during early voting and on Election Day.
- Using data to inform policy and budget debates.
Participants also discussed other opportunities to strengthen and expand election performance analysis and described the importance of comprehensive, quality data in improving the electoral process. They called for better dissemination of elections data to a wider audience in order to promote increased public knowledge of elections and to facilitate broader use of the data. Several panelists also discussed the challenges that state and local election officials confront when collecting data and how technology can be leveraged to improve or automate this process.
Pew’s Elections Performance Index uses the EAVS to assess election administration in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.