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.
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.