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Editorials

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Pew Election Performance Index
Top 10 in 2010
1. North Dakota
2. Washington
3. Oregon
4. Colorado
5. Minnesota
6. Delaware
7. Connecticut
8. Wisconsin
9. South Dakota
10. Montana
Bottom 11 in 2010
51. Mississippi
50. New York
49. California
48. Idaho
47. Alabama
46. Oklahoma
45. Hawaii
44. West Virginia
43. Nebraska
42. New Hampshire
41. South Carolina
40. Indiana
Election performance ranking
In 2008, Indiana earned an overall average of 59 percent on the index; in 2010, it was 60 percent. Wisconsin was the highest-ranking states in 2008 with 83 percent. North Dakota came in second in 2008 with 82 percent and came in first in 2010. Mississippi was at the bottom for performance for both elections at 42 percent in 2008 and 37 percent in 2010.
Neighboring Ohio earned 60 percent in 2008 on the EPI and 64 percent in 2010.
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A recent Pew Charitable Trust study gives Indiana election officials unbiased information about where there is room to improve the election process for voters.
Editorials

Big changes, little change

Indiana leaders have made several big changes to the voting process over the past few years.

But a recent study shows that those big changes did little to make voting in Indiana more convenient or ensure fair access to voting and the accuracy of results – the elements that are most important to voters and to democracy.

The recent study from the Pew Charitable Trust in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranks Indiana as seventh worst in the nation for election performance in 2008. The state did slightly better in 2010, coming in 11th from the bottom.

The Pew Election Performance Index analyzed the voting systems of all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia against a common set of performance measurements. The study looked at 17 aspects of the voting process from voter registration to ballot counting for the 2008 and 2010 elections. Each state was evaluated based on measurements such as election administration, polling locations, wait times, the availability of online information, the number of voter registration applications that were rejected, problems with absentee ballots, access for military voters, voter turnout and accuracy of voting technology.

Indiana received attention for its voter ID law, one of the strictest in the nation. Proponents of the law claimed it would give voters greater confidence in the election process. But the law does nothing to address election accuracy, which would do far more to boost voters’ confidence that election results are correct. Indiana earned a rate of 1.9 percent on the performance index for the low accuracy of the voting technology used in the state.

The study found that Indiana has a significant problem with a low voter registration rate. In 2010, Indiana became one of only eight states to offer online voter registration. Online registration has the potential to help with the low registration rate, but the Pew study also indicates Indiana has a troubling problem with a high rate of registration rejections.

Indiana also had a troublingly high rate of unreturned military and overseas ballots as well as a high number of rejected absentee ballots. In 2008, only Indiana and the District of Columbia had unreturned ballots rates higher than 40 percent.

Glaring problems during recent elections have led to a public call for improvements to the American electoral system. But both political parties appear more interested in pressing for partisan advantage than finding solutions that make voting easier.

Susan K. Urahn, executive vice president of The Pew Charitable Trust, wrote in an article for Governing.com that “data-driven reviews like these can help bridge the partisan and ideological divides that often stymie attempts to improve Americans’ voting experience.”

The study provides state as well as local election officials with unbiased information about where Indiana needs to focus election improvement efforts.

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