THE NEW DATA’S HERE! THE NEW DATA’S HERE! EAC Releases Report on 2012 Election Survey


[Image courtesy of EAC]

Forgive me as I channel my inner Steve Martin, but this is a big day for election geeks everywhere … the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has released its report on the 2012 Election Administration and Voting Survey.

Here’s an excerpt of the report’s executive summary:

There were approximately 194.2 million total eligible and registered voters in the United States reported for the November 2012 election, an increase of nearly 3.7 million registered voters since the last presidential election in 2008. The 2012 EAC survey collected information on how 131,590,825 Americans participated in the election. Response rates to the survey have been increasing over time, with 2012 seeing the highest jurisdiction-level participation rates since the EAC began conducting this study.
Although the completeness of State responses varied, valuable voting data were ollected from each of the 50 States, three territories, and the District of Columbia.

Over half of American voters cast a regular ballot in person at a polling place on Election Day in 2012 (56.5%). Others voted by domestic absentee ballot (16.6%); by early voting before Election Day (9.0%); by mail voting (4.9%); by provisional ballot, the validity of which was decided after Election Day (1.6%); or by absentee ballot as overseas or uniformed services voters (0.5%).

States transmitted nearly 33.1 million domestic absentee ballots and 83.5% were returned and submitted for counting. Oregon and Washington conduct their elections entirely by mail, and in three other Western States (Arizona, Colorado, and Montana), more than half of all voters cast their ballots via absentee voting.

Improved data collection on Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) ballots resulted in a more complete picture of voting by uniformed services and overseas voters. States reported transmitting over 876,000 ballots to UOCAVA voters, and 66.0% were returned and submitted for counting. Of UOCAVA ballots cast, 95.8% were counted; the others were rejected for various reasons, including missing ballot return deadlines.

Provisional ballots once again proved to be a substantial source of both ballots and votes in some States, with more than 2,702,000 provisional ballots submitted by voters nationwide. Four States–Arizona, California, New York, and Ohio–each reported more than 100,000 provisional ballots submitted and accounted for 70.6% of the nation’s total. States counted 72.9% of their provisional ballots in whole or in part. Over 651,000 provisional ballots, or 24.1%, were rejected, most commonly because it was determined that the voter was not properly registered. States reported using their provisional ballots in different ways; for example, some States issue provisional ballots when voters wish to change their address on Election Day.

In addition to the voting data, the 2012 survey collected information on a range of election administration topics, including the ages of poll workers, the number of polling places, and the types of voting technology. Among the key findings were that States employed almost 888,000 poll workers in nearly 120,000 polling places in the 2012 election, or roughly 7.4 poll workers per polling place, a slight increase from the last presidential election. Poll workers tend to be older on average than the general population. Ages were reported for over 361,000 poll workers; of those, 59.1% were between ages 41 and 70 and over one-fifth (22.3%) were aged 71 years or older. Over a third of responding jurisdictions (39.0%) reported having some difficulty in obtaining sufficient numbers of poll workers.

The type of voting technologies varies across and within States. Seventeen States reported deploying 121,638 Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) machines without voterverified paper ballots. Another 18 States reported using 79,357 DREs with voter-verified paper audit trails (VVPAT).

The most widely deployed technology was the optical or digital scanner that reads voter-marked ballots; 40 States reported using 271,384 such counters or booths in at least some of their jurisdictions. [citations omitted]

As I’ve noted in the past, survey response rates are a challenge, but the EAC says the response rate improved to its highest ever since the survey started in 2004.

The full county-level data is available on the EAC’s survey page [Excel | SPSS | DBF | codebook] along with a slideshow of infographics featuring top-level findings in the report.

This data is likely to feed a new round of research from academicians and others nationwide – I look forward to seeing (and re-blogging!) all of it here.

REMINDER: Check out the Election Academy’s new online course on voter eligibility here!

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