Ideas. Action. Results.

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.

October 18, 2016: BPC, Election Administrators Partner to Collect First-Ever National Data on Voting Lines

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.”

Participating Jurisdictions

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.


“We are committed to improving the voting experience for our constituents by using our resources where they are needed most. By showing where and when lines form on Election Day, this program will provide insight into where Dallas County needs to deploy additional resources to ensure voters do not have to wait in long lines to vote.”

Toni Pippins-Poole, Elections Administrator, Dallas County, TX

“By participating in the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Election Day line data collection we will be able to improve the voting experience for all voters.”

Shirley Anderson, Supervisor of Elections, Hernando County, FL

“The Bipartisan Policy Center’s data collection project is an excellent example of experts, policy makers, and practitioners collaborating to improve elections nationwide.”

David Stafford, Supervisor of Elections, Escambia County, FL

“I truly believe in this project—It is on the cutting edge of providing robust data that can empower administrators to run elections efficiently.”

Jacquelyn Callanen, Elections Administrator, Bexar County, TX

“It is with great enthusiasm that we are participating in this program. By having a better understanding of voter’s habits we can craft policies and practices that can better serve them.”

Terry Vaughan, Supervisor of Elections, Bradford County, Florida

“We are happy to be a part of the Election Day line data collection effort.  We want to make voting a pleasant experience and look forward to providing any data that will assist our voters and increase participation in the voting process.”

Jerry Foster, Assistant Supervisor of Elections, Lake County, Florida

“We will participate in the Election Day line data collection effort because we believe it is imperative that we all have empirical data on which to base our decisions. With a long-standing record of having the highest percentage turnout of active voters in the entire state we know a little bit about voter throughput. This data will help us continue to reduce waiting times and better serve our citizens.”

Robin Lind, Secretary, Goochland County Electoral Board

“I look forward to making the voting experience a streamlined, smooth process. With the help of your data collection I can make the best decision possible for my voters and locality when purchasing our new voting equipment in the near future.”

Susan Reed. General Registrar and Director of Elections, Manassas, VA

“I believe that this exercise will provide the hard evidence that the Election community needs in order to educate Legislators.”

Teresa Smithson, General Registrar and Director of Elections, Hanover County, VA

“York County is pleased to participate in this project, which will help increase the transparency and efficiency of the voting process in Virginia.”

Walt Latham, General Registrar and Director of Elections, York County, VA

John Fortier
Director of the Democracy Project
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Matthew Weil
Associate Director of the Democracy Project
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Timothy Harper
Policy Analyst
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