The flaws in the American election system are deep and widespread, extending beyond isolated voting issues in a few locations and flaring up in states rich and poor, according to a major new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts. The group ranked 50 states based on more than 15 criteria, including wait times, lost votes and problems with absentee and provisional ballots, and the order often confounds the conventional wisdom. In 2010, for instance, Mississippi ranked last overall. But it was preceded by two surprises: New York and California. “Poor Southern states perform well, and they perform badly,” said Heather K. Gerken, a law professor at Yale and a Pew adviser. “Rich New England states perform well and badly — mostly badly.”
A main aim of the exercise, which grew out of Professor’s Gerken’s 2009 book, “The Democracy Index,” was to shame poor performers into doing better, she said. “Peer pressure produces horrible things like Britney Spears and Justin Bieber and tongue rings,” she said. “But it also produces professional peer pressure.”
The project includes an interactive tool that allows rankings by individual criteria or clusters of them.
Some states, for instance, lost very few votes thanks to shortcomings in voting technology and voter confusion, with the best 10 reporting failure rates of 0.5 percent or less in 2008. In West Virginia, by contrast, the rate was 3.2 percent.
Natalie Tennant, West Virginia’s secretary of state, said that she was not happy with that result and that she would look hard at Pew’s data and methodology. But she added that “2012 went really well, even with Sandy,” referring to the hurricane that disrupted early voting in the last election. “We were humming.”
“You’re only as good as your next election,” she said.
The Pew study is based on data from the 2008 and 2010 elections, the most recent for which comprehensive data were available.
Full Article: U.S. Voting Flaws Are Widespread, Study Shows – NYTimes.com.