Earlier this month, the EAC released two videos from experts in the field about how to visualize elections data and how visualizing these data can be used in policy and budget discussions. And last week the Pew Charitable Trusts released its most recent iteration of the Elections Performance Index (EPI) with data from the 2014 elections, using 17 indicators to examine how states administer elections. What do these videos and the EPI have in common? Both highlight or use data from the EAC’s very own Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS) – for example more than half of the EPI’s indicators use data from the EAVS. This survey is the only effort to gather in-depth election administration data from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. And of course it is hardworking state and local election officials who supply these data to the EAC, responding to this massive survey every two years.
The EAVS, which has been administered every federal general election cycle since 2004, has more than 1.5 million data points and collects information related (but not limited) to:
Voter registration, including the total number of registered voters; how many voters used Election Day registration; how many used online voter registration; where registration applications come from and how many are accepted and how many are rejected.
Military and overseas voters, including the total number of ballots transmitted, returned, counted, and rejected, and the reasons for rejection.
General election administration data, including the number of provisional ballots submitted, counted, rejected, and the reasons for rejection; the number of poll workers used; voter turnout and how voters cast their ballots – by mail, during early voting, or on Election Day.
The videos and the EPI highlight the importance of these data, as they allow all concerned stakeholders – election officials, legislators, policymakers responsible for budget decisions, advocacy groups, and voters – to better understand how elections are run. Over time, the data gain power as it becomes more possible to track and understand trends.