EAC’s 2016 survey provides a deep dive into a wealth of election, voting data

Moriah Ratner

I love baseball. As a researcher, I am fascinated by the endless stream of statistics it generates, data that provides a detailed picture of the rhythms and pace of any given game or season. Coaches, players and general managers use the data to tweak everything from how to set their infield defense to planning team finances and roster decisions years down the road. And fans use the data in their own way to better understand and enjoy the game.

This is exactly how I’d like Congress, election administrators and the American people to view the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s 2016 Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS), the most comprehensive nationwide data about election administration in the United States. It’s a treasure trove of data collected to paint a picture of the administration of the 2016 Federal Election and to give us indicators about ways we can improve election administration and voter experience. And it allows anyone to use the data to dive into what they think is important to better understand how elections work in our country.

{mosads}For some baseball fans, the 2016 Federal Election may feel a little like the 2004 American League Championship between the Boston Red Sox and my beloved New York Yankees. While personally a rough series for me, it undoubtedly had some unbelievable moments that people still talk about. Yet it also had many innings of less memorable but just as important and well played baseball by both teams.

Similarly, while most of the conversation about the 2016 Federal Election continues to revolve around headline-grabbing events such as reported hacking attempts and alleged voting irregularities, the 2016 EAVS data gives the full picture of the many lesser noticed but essential parts of a well-played season. 

State and local election administrators successfully provided a growing number of Americans with the opportunity to cast their ballot in a way that best suited their lifestyle and poll workers increasingly deployed new technology to carry out their duties more efficiently.

The 2016 EAVS is a deep dive into a wealth of election and voting data from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories. The EAC conducts the survey to meet its Help America Vote Act of 2002 charge to serve as a national clearinghouse and resource for the compilation of information with respect to the administration of federal elections. Some of the key findings from this year’s survey include: 

  • An increasing number of Americans vote before Election Day. More than 140 million voters cast ballots in the 2016 Federal Election. Approximately 40 percent of those votes were cast before Election Day. Of the total turnout, approximately 17 percent of ballots were cast using in-person early voting and nearly 24 percent were cast using by-mail absentee voting.
  • More Americans are registering online. Online registration applications constituted only 6.5 percent total registrations in the 2014 election, but accounted for 17.4 percent in 2016.
  • The Greatest Generation is still giving back! A quarter of all poll workers were aged 71 or older, and more than half of poll workers across America were 61 or older.
  • More jurisdictions are using electronic sign-in technology. The number of jurisdictions using electronic poll books went from 645 in 2012 to 1,146 in 2016. 

This is just some of the important data that lawmakers, state and local election leaders, voters and other stakeholders will use over the coming months and beyond to improve voter experience and how elections are administered. For the full report, visit www.eac.gov

Sean Greene is Director of Research at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and oversees the commission’s EAVS report.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.


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