Tags: pew | polling | study | election

Pew Study Highlights Election Problems

Wednesday, 06 Feb 2013 12:19 PM

By Cyrus Afzali

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A new study released this week shows at least two states initially rejected more than half their voter registrations during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles and that wait times at polling places ranged from a few minutes to a few hours.

The study by The Pew Charitable Trusts examining how states handled voting during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles also showed a wide variation in the ease of registering to vote. Pennsylvania and Indiana rejected more than 50 percent of their applications and in one state – North Dakota – voting registration wasn’t even required to cast ballots.

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Absentee ballots cast by military members and residents living abroad were also rejected at rates that varied widely. In 2010, New York rejected a quarter of its 22,000 absentee ballots while Pennsylvania rejected only 2 percent of the 8,000 cast by its residents.

The study also showed South Carolina had the longest wait times at polling places in 2008, with an average wait of slightly more than an hour and Georgia came in second, with an average wait of 37 minutes.

These were only a few of the findings of the study, which Pew said was designed to highlight voter registration problems, long poll wait times, the availability of online registration, and problems with absentee ballots. Pew also developed an online interactive tool as part of the study to rank the states according to election issues and problems.

Pew said the goal was to establish a set of baseline indicators that could be used to monitor election performance by examining a wide range of election issues, everything from polling location and wait times, to the accuracy of voting technology and overall voter turnout.

Overall, Pew found that New York, California, and a group of Southern states had the worst election performances during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. The study ranked Alabama, California, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and West Virginia as the worst performing states.

Top honors for the best performing elections states overall went to Colorado, Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin.

“Election officials can use this data to benchmark their own performance over time and help assess which policies have been working most effectively for their own citizens,” said David Becker, director of Pew’s Election Initiatives project. “Pew’s goal in developing this new online interactive tool is to promote the highest standards of accuracy, cost-effectiveness, convenience, and security in America’s election system.”

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