New data from the 2014 midterm elections show a vast majority of national voters waited 10 minutes or less to cast their ballot, while a surprising number of people who requested mail ballots either didn’t vote or returned their ballot in ways other than by mail. In short, states have gotten better at getting voters in and out of the polls quickly. But with mail voting increasing in popularity, both voters and election officials still face planning challenges when it comes to absentee and mailed ballots. The report from the Pew Charitable Trusts comes as the nonpartisan research and public policy organization readies a comprehensive review of how each state fared during the 2014 election. That “elections performance index” is due out at the beginning of next year, ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
The indexes in the past have dinged Georgia. In one released in April 2014, reviewing the Peach State’s performance in the 2012 presidential election compared with four years earlier, Georgia had the biggest ratings decline in the nation. Among its problems were worsening return rates from overseas ballots, increases in the number of people not voting due to disability or illness, and one of the longest wait times in the nation at 18 minutes.
By releasing this early data now, Pew provides an updated snapshot of both the expectations and the reality of voting practices across the nation.