The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Election Day line data collection program stems from a key recommendation of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA): to reduce Election Day lines through election resource management solutions.
BPC, in partnership with the Polling Place of the Future Project of the CalTech/MIT Voting Technology Project, has undertaken a nationwide effort to measure Election Day lines at polling places around the country. BPC collected unique data from polling places in more than 80 jurisdictions on an hourly basis throughout Election Day on November 8, 2016.
Why collect line length data?
This data will help to diagnose the causes of long lines at the polls, predict where they may happen in advance of elections, and develop tools to allow election officials to swiftly allocate resources to the precincts most in need. Jurisdictions in Virginia and across the nation are already using this data to identify and solve resource allocation challenges.
PCEA set a broad goal that no voter should wait more than 30 minutes to cast a ballot, and urged states and localities to take action to meet that target. BPC has taken on the task of advocating for and implementing the PCEA recommendations and is focused on addressing long lines at polling places across the country.
“President Obama decried on Election Night 2012 the unconscionably long lines that voters had to endure at some polling places just to exercise their right to vote. In the years since, our commission and others have addressed many of the underlying causes of lines at polling places,” said PCEA co-chair Bob Bauer.
But while states and localities across the country have undertaken reforms proposed by the PCEA, as well as by BPC, experts still don’t know where election lines form on Election Day. According to PCEA co-chair Ben Ginsberg, “It is surprising to many Americans that we know with little certainty about where and when lines occur on Election Day. BPC and MIT partnership to systematically collect line data from a large number of jurisdictions will advance our understanding of lines so that administrators can make evidence-based policy decisions to improve the voting experience.”
In all, the participating jurisdictions currently represent:
- 88 jurisdictions in 11 states provided usable election-day line length data in the 2016 General election.
- These jurisdictions represent a total of 15,644,645 registered voters.
- Voters in these jurisdictions collectively cast 11,059,900 votes, or roughly 8% of all votes cast in the election.
- From these 88 jurisdictions, data was provided from 4,006 precincts.