This morning, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has released the 2004 Election Day Survey, which the EAC calls “the largest and most comprehensive survey on election administration ever conducted by a U.S. governmental organization.” Mike and I have looked through the tables and would say that this claim is quite true.
For state level data, the Election Day Survey truly is a comprehensive document and will allow for election geeks and policy wonks to crunch numbers until their hearts are content. So when the EAC chair Gracia Hillman says,
The 2004 Election Day Survey tells us a great deal about voting and elections practices throughout the country. The survey provides critical statistics on voter registration and turnout, voting equipment and locations, and other information about the voting process. All of this will assist us in making certain that every vote is counted fairly and accurately.
She is definately hitting the nail on the head. The EAC should be given kudos for getting this report done and for putting it out so that it can be used and analyzed. (We would also send out kudos to Kim Brace and Election Data Services for their work on this effort!)
The key is to look at the state jurisdictional level data. This will allow us to study an array of election phenomena–turnout, early voting, absentee voting, turnout, and services to individuals with disabilities immediately come to mind–at the point where election services are provided and election administration matters most. The state level data are likely hiding variations across jurisdictions in a state where election services are excellent in some places and are lousy in others. Second, the jurisdictional data will force poor performing jurisdictions to step up and improve their game.
Here are some additional factoids from the EAC press release about the 2004 election:
Key 2004 Election Facts (As reported by the states)
60.7 percent voter turnout rate (based on citizen voting age population)
96.9 percent of absentee ballots were counted
64.5 percent of provisional ballots were counted
Lowest presidential drop-off rate since World War II at 1.02 percent