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Professor Dan Tokaji
Election reform, the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act, and related topics -- with special attention to the voting rights of people of color, non-English proficient citizens, and people with disabilities

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Equal Vote
Tuesday, September 27
Election Day Survey Released
The Election Assistance Commission today released its 2004 Election Day Survey. The data were compiled by Kim Brace of Election Data Services, with Michael McDonald serving as statistical consultant. It's billed as "the largest and most comprehensive survey of voting and election administration practices ever conducted by a U.S. government organization." The subjects covered include voter registraiton, ballots counted, turnout, absentees, provisional ballots, overvotes and undervotes, voting equipment usage, and polling place operations.

Among the most notable findings is that only 1.02% of ballots cast in 2004 did not register a vote for president, the lowest in a post-World War II presidential election. Punch cards had the highest uncounted vote rate (1.60%) with optical scans at 1.12% and electronic voting machines just over 0.8%. Other findings set forth in the executive summary include:

- "[T]he reported total voter registration constituted 79.5 percent of the voting age population (all persons age 18 and older residing in the United States; VAP) or 86.0 percent of citizen voting age population (CVAP)."

- "73.5 percent of total ballots cast were reported to have been cast in a polling place on Election Day, 13.3 percent were reported to have been cast as an absentee ballot, 23.5 percent were reported to have been cast as an early vote, 1.2 percent were reported to have been cast as a provisional ballot, and the remaining 23.1 percent were cast in an unknown manner."

- "16,870,660 absentee ballots were requested, 14,851,332 were returned (88.7 percent), and nearly all, or 14,740,215 (96.9 percent), were counted. "

- "1,901,591 provisional ballots were reported to have been cast. Of those, 1,225,915 were reported counted (or 64.5 percent). Provisional ballots were used by 2.56 percent of the persons casting ballots on Election Day, which also amounted to 1.25 percent of all registered voters for the election. "

- "[M]ore than one quarter of the nation's election jurisdictions used paper ballots, but because of their small size, only 1.8 percent of the registered voters voted in this manner. Nearly 40 percent of the nation's registered voters used optical scan systems in 2004, and 25 percent used electronic systems. Another 12 percent utilized lever machines and nine percent were still voting with punch cards."

- "[T]here were at least 845,962 poll workers that worked at polling places on Election Day, which constituted almost one in 200 of the CVAP. There were an average of 5.7 poll workers per precinct and 7.9 per polling place. "

- "[T]here were at least 174,252 precincts and 113,754 polling places, for an average ratio of 1.45:1 polling places to precincts."

- Finally, on disability acces issues: "The most significant issue in this chapter is the overall lack of data. Only 26 of the 55 states and territories provided information on disability ...."

All of the above include only those jurisdictions which responded to the questions asked. It appears to be a comprehensive survey, well worth checking out.

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Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University