Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Election Performance Index: a thorough analysis of the North American electoral system

As Election Day draws nearer, poll-related studies continue to be conducted, throwing further light on the current state of American elections and the developments it had undergone.

Recently, the PewTrust Research Center published the Election Performance Index (EPI), a comprehensive evaluation of the electoral system in all of the nation’s 50 states – including the District of Columbia. The study took into account 17 key indicators.

The EPI covers the 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 elections, measuring variables related to the problems faced by voters with disabilities, the availability of an online register, the voting of military personnel deployed abroad, voter turnout and the number of voters registered.  

These indicators reflect how several states have managed to improve their performance during elections, particularly when it comes to online registration and waiting times to vote.  

-          Online registration: Since 2008 there has been a steady increase of the number of states that offer this option to voters. This year, only two states (Washington and Arizona) opted for this technology upgrade. Today, over 20 states offer an online solution for voter registration and the update of their data.  

-          Voters with disabilities: During the past 4 elections, the District of Columbia, Mississippi and Alabama polled over 20% in the EPI when it came to voters who were unable to vote due to an illness or disability, due to the lack of proper conditions at the polling places and of solutions offered by the voting system.  

-          Voter turnout: The EPI reflects two important changes. On the one hand, during the 2008 and 2012 general elections, voter turnout did not surpass 80%, while for the midterm elections of 2010 and 2014 this index dropped to a mere 58%.  

These indicators, in addition to others in the study, show how states can continue to develop their electoral systems to offer voters more accessibility, transparency and security. These variables could be improved by the use of technology, leading to a stronger democracy.