Latest EAC “Deep Dive” Looks at Election Technology

[Image via EAC]

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s latest “Deep Dive” using Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS) data looks at election technology across the nation. Here’s the overview:

  • From 2012 to 2016, there was a significant increase in the use of electronic poll books (e-poll books) nationwide. The number of in-person voters checked in with e-poll books more than doubled, increasing 110 percent from 1.97 million to 4.14 million voters.
  • Nearly 48 percent of voters who cast ballots in person in 2016 were signed in at the polls by election workers using e-poll books, compared to only 27 percent in 2012.
  • Thirty-two states, the District of Columbia and U.S. Virgin Islands reported using e-poll books in at least one jurisdiction in the 2016 elections. Five states used e-poll books statewide.
  • Optical scan machines remain the most popular type of voting equipment in the country and were used by approximately 61 percent of jurisdictions in 2016. Jurisdictions using hybrid voting machines increased by 4 percent between 2008 and 2016, while those using direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines without a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) decreased by 3 percent over the same period.
  • Online voter registration (OVR) accounted for nearly 18 percent of all voter registration applications for the 2016 elections, more than triple the rate from 2012.
  • Six additional states have implemented OVR since 2016. Today, 37 states, the District of Columbia and Guam offer OVR.

Since the EAC was established in 2002, digital technology has significantly changed the way elections are administered in the United States. Computerized statewide voter registration databases have been adopted in all states with voter registration. Online voter registration has spread to nearly three-fourths of the states. The use of e-poll books is on the rise. Lever and punch-card machines have been phased out and electronic voting equipment that allows voters to cast, and election officials to count, ballots has spread to every corner of the country. More recently, there appears to be a gradual decrease in the use of paperless voting systems.

These technological changes have considerable implications for election efficiency and integrity, voter experience and confidence, accessibility, and the roles of election officials at all levels. This rings especially true today as election officials across the country seek to modernize and better secure their election systems in the aftermath of the 2016 elections. 

As always, this Deep Dive (also available in PDF form here) is a revealing look at how technology is changing elections across the country. Kudos to the EAC, especially David Kuennen, for preparing and sharing this publication with the community – and thanks to the election officials across the country who responded to the EAVS in order to make it possible. Can’t wait for the next Deep Dive … stay tuned!

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