If you swing over to the Election Data Services website, you can download a copy of the presentation Kim Brace gave to the EAC about the Election Day Survey. It is full of facinating tidbits that we often forget about elections. One of the problems that exists in elections is that there is often a belief that every other jurisdiction is like ours or every jurisdiction runs elections the way they are run where we live. I remember when working for the National Commission on Federal Election Reform hearing a story about the elderly man from New York who voted in Florida for the first time. He stood in front of the punch card machine and waited. When the poll worker came over to ask him if he needed help, he said no, I am just looking for the way to make the curtain close (which, of course, is what happens with lever machines in New York).
The EDS presentation reminds us just what a bizarre mix of jurisdictions we have. For example, on slide 2 Kim notes:
- 1,778 of nations’ jurisdictions have fewer than 1,000 registered voters in them.
- Only 320 jurisdictions have more than 100,000 registered voters
- Only 18 jurisdictions have more than 1 million voters.
- Over 26% of election jurisdictions still use paper ballots.
Kim then reminds us about the need for uniform data definitions and standards in elections. In the area of voter registration, not all states report registration the same:
- 26 states report “Active” voters only
- 20 states combine “Active” & “Inactives”
- 4 states leave determination to locals.
On the issue of active versus inactive registrants, he further notes that inactives are largest in urban areas:
- Jurisdictions > 1 million voters: 21.6% Inactives
- Jurisdictions < 1,000 voters: 8.8% Inactives
What is the impact of having a Statewide Voter Registration system in place on the number of inactive voters in the voter registration file? States with statewide systems had 11.0% inactives on file compared to 16.5% in states not having a statewide system.
The presentation has many other interesting items, but these should whet your appetite to examine the entire presentation. This will also help you slog through the multiple datasets that exist for the election day survey to figure out what interesting factoids need to be fully caveated!