2009-10 NVRA Report arrives

As I noted yesterday, the 2009-2010 National Voter Registration Report is available at the EAC’s website.

The highlights of the report include:

  • 85.9% registration, or 186.9 million registered voters, 14 million more registered voters than in 2006 (although a drop from 2008)
  • A more than doubling (8 to 17) in the number of states that accepted voter registration forms over the Internet, with Arizona, Oregon, and Washington leading the pack
  • The EAC has discovered the virtue of ranking states (!), freeing the reader from the (relatively simple) task of doing it themselves. See Table 1C for a ranking of states on registration rates as a percent of voting age population.

Unfortunately, there are lowlights.

  • The lack of a quorum on the Commission meant that there are no recommendations (pg. 9), only a promise in the future. I wouldn’t hold your breath
  • Anyone who is already familiar with past NVRA reports won’t be surprised; much of the text is a dry recitation of the statutory mandate and the process the agency went through in order to administer the surveys.
  • In line with previous reports, little is done in the way of summary statistics beyond reporting totals, even though data are now collected mainly at the county level. 16 million forms were received at motor vehicle offices from 2009-2010, for instance, but does it help to know that the percent of forms received county by county, and across states, varies dramatically? It might if you are a state trying to identify the laggards and reward the leaders.

Using the county level data can be problematic.  Why, for example, did Hinds County, MS report 914 forms processed by the DMV (QA6D) but only 166 TOTAL registration forms (QA5_Total)? Lauderdale County, MS reports 316 DMV forms and 198 total forms, while Albany County, NY (the location of the state capital no less) reports 43,999 total forms and 72028 DMV forms.

The figure below displays the county variation across states (states are not labeled but are sorted alphabetically), but I have removed all values exceeding 1.0.  It’s only a figure that an MIT professor could love.