A few years ago, I proposed creating a “Democracy Index” that would rank states and localities based on how well they run elections. Since then, the Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonpartisan organization well known for promoting data-driven governance, has tried to put these ideas into action. It created the nation’s first Elections Performance Index, which was released this week. The EPI measures state performance based on seventeen indicators, which include the length of lines, the accuracy of voting technology, and the percentage of voters who experienced problems registering or casting an absentee ballot. The process for creating the Index was remarkable – as serious and professional an undertaking as I’ve witnessed. Pew itself devoted significant funding and top-notch staffers to the project. It also assembled an extraordinary group of advisors, which included some of the top state and local election administrators in the country. The legendary Charles Stewart, the former chair of MIT’s political science department, served as the data expert (though that seems a bit like calling a Ferrari a “car”). The Pew staff and advisors — along with numerous outside experts Pew called in to poke and prod and test and challenge the validity of the indicators – narrowed down a list of almost fifty potential performance indicators to the seventeen you see on the website. A huge amount of effort was put in to be sure the indicators were measuring something meaningful, and that the data gave us genuine signals rather than noise. I am frankly amazed that Pew came up with so many good measures – it’s a testament to the creativity of the team, especially the political scientists who were involved.