Working to find actionable solutions to the nation's key challenges.

Long lines and wait times at the polls on Election Day frustrate voters and make headlines. The Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA) stated that no voter should wait in line more than 30 minutes to cast a vote—and that election officials should deploy resources accordingly. But making good policy decisions relies on the availability of good data.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Democracy Project partnered with Charles Stewart III, co-director of the CalTech/MIT Voting Technology Project, during the 2016 election on the first ever nationwide program to evaluate long lines at all polling places in participating jurisdictions. The program is simple: poll workers count the number of people waiting in line to check in at the top of every hour on Election Day. Those observations combined with total turnout numbers yield accurate wait times by polling place.

The data gathered come from jurisdictions that included more than one out of every 10 voters on Election Day. Participating jurisdictions numbered 88 from 11 different states and more than 4,000 individual polling places.

Each participating jurisdiction receives an analysis of the data to better understand when and where polling place lines occur. With this data, election officials can make evidence-based decisions about how best to deploy resources during the next election.

For more information about the program, please view the video and watch our upcoming event

JOIN US TO IMPROVE THE VOTING EXPERIENCE

BPC and MIT believe that measuring lines each hour at every polling place should be a universal best practice of election officials. We are expanding our program in 2018 and invite election officials from jurisdictions of all sizes across the country to join our effort to improve the voting experience in America.

There is no cost to local election officials to participate in this program.

If you have questions or to sign up your jurisdiction to participate, please submit your contact information in the form provided here, or send an e-mail to democracy@bipartisanpolicy.org.

Related Content

Podcast

Episode 2: All Things Elections

May 2, 2018 | Governance

This month we talk about the voting experience at the polls and the BPC/MIT Election Lines Program with guest Dr. Charles Stewart.

Read More

Press Release

New Report: Many Election Day Lines Shorter in 2016, But Some Long Waits Remain

April 27, 2018 | Governance

A significant number of polling places still experienced average wait times over 30 minutes

Read More

Research

Improving The Voter Experience

April 27, 2018 | Governance

Long lines at the polls can undermine the voting experience, even to the point of discouraging people from voting. Reducing polling place wait times by measuring lines and managing polling place resources can improve the voting experience.

Read More

Event

Making Elections Work

April 27, 2018 | Governance

BPC gave updates on our continuing work with PCEA, with a focus on polling place line management and voter registration modernization.

Read More