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Electoral System Reform Update

The 2016 presidential election cycle highlighted the need for many of the CPR’s recommendations for electoral system reform—in the areas of redistricting, who votes in primary elections, improving candidate selection, making it easier for qualified citizens to be able to first register and then vote, and also addressing the role of money in politics.

BPC’s line data collection project and data sharing projects are examples of successful implementation of the CPR’s recommendations.

Line Data Collection

BPC’s Democracy Project team partnered with Professor Charles Stewart III, director of the CalTech/MIT Voting Technology Project, to develop a nationwide line data collection effort to execute on Election Day 2016. The project grew out of a Presidential Commission on Election Administration recommendation to set a new 30-minute goal for maximum wait time in polling place lines. The data includes insights into the voting process of more than 15,644,645 registered voters from 88 jurisdictions in 11 states. Overall, data was collected in 4,006 precincts on election day. BPC and MIT have processed and returned data to all 88 participating jurisdictions that range in size from small towns (10,000 registered voters) to some of the largest in the country (1.65 million registered voters). Voters in these jurisdictions collectively cast 11,059,900 votes, or roughly 8 percent of all votes cast in the election. The average wait time per county was 8.59 minutes (taking each precinct as one, not adjusted for population size). The average daily wait times spanned from 1.1 minutes to 23.4 minutes—well under the PCEA recommended 30-minute maximum wait time. Moreover, our data concludes that: 91 percent of precincts experienced average daily wait times of 30 minutes or less; 4.1 percent of precincts had daily average waits of three to 60 minutes; and 4 percent averaged waits longer than one hour throughout the day.

Among the insights gained, BPC and MIT determined that there is evidence of substantially more morning voting than late day voting in participating jurisdictions: 58.8 percent of voters standing in line at hourly intervals were in the hours before noon, 18.8 percent of voters in line were recorded between noon and 3:00 p.m., and 22.4 percent of voters were recorded in lines from 4:00 p.m. until the polls closed.

BPC and MIT also provided more granular analysis for many participating jurisdictions by pairing this data with poll book data to show average wait times on an hourly basis. BPC and MIT are also collaborating with several other jurisdictions to analyze wait times at early voting centers during the 2016 general election.

BPC and MIT are actively recruiting additional jurisdictions to participate in the line data collection program through presentations at national and regional meetings with elections officials.

Data Sharing

The Democracy Project team continues to advocate for election officials to participate in rigorous data sharing programs such as the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) and Crosscheck to protect the integrity of elections and access to voting by eligible voters.


BPC’s John Fortier and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff recently discussed election integrity and data sharing issues in a video interview, which was viewed over 30,000 times.

Watch the interview

John Fortier also recently discussed these important issues on Indianapolis public radio WFYI’s No Limits program.

Listen to the program

John Fortier and Don Palmer wrote a recent op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch about the line data collection project.

Read the op-ed


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