Cuyahoga election studies: developing methods of election monitoring

Recently a lengthy (398 page) report was issued regarding the spring primary election in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. That election has been closely studied, and as part of the scrutiny of that election, many issues have been discussed about the voting equipment, pollworker training, procedural problems, and voter confusion. Here’s the public report that has been issued (link from the Advancement Project). There is of course a lot here to digest, and above the problems that have been reported and discussed since the report was issued, so I’m not going to go into more detail on those points.

This report, in my mind, really points out the necessity that election officials work to undertake such comprehensive analyses of their election administration practices. The material released so far from the Cuyahoga study shows just how much data can be collected — and how it might be studied — to provide feedback to election officials as they seek to improve their administrative practices. For example, in the appendix of this report there are tables that provide preliminary analyses of incident reports filed by polling place workers and by election technicians. What a gold mine those datasets will be for administrators and researchers in the future!

Secondly, there are many important recommendations that are made in this report, in particular calls for better pre-election testing, procedural reform, and better training of pollworkers and election officials in future elections. No doubt, the comprehensive audit of the spring primary in Cuyahoga will provide much data for future audits in Cuyahoga, as well as baseline data for similar audits in other jurisdictions in the future.