Public Release: 8-Dec-2016
Survey: Wait times for voters in 2016 election improved in several key states
Evaluating voter experience
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
While many voters reported long lines at polling locations around the country during the 2012 presidential election, this year the overall amount of time people had to wait to vote improved significantly, according to a new survey examining voter experience during the 2016 presidential election.
Stewart found that in a number of states where voters experienced some of the longest waiting times in the 2012 presidential election -- including South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland -- there was notable improvement in 2016. In Florida, Stewart found "tremendous improvement in terms of how long people reported that they waited to vote."
The findings show that "all the effort over the last four years that was invested in dealing with problems President Obama identified with lines, those efforts appear to have paid off," Stewart says.
However, Stewart cautions that while the overall picture shows a trend in the right direction, voter experiences still vary between states, and some states still have a ways to go before wait times are within acceptable limits. For instance, in about half the states over 10 percent of voters waited more than 30 minutes to vote in 2016, which exceeds the benchmark established by the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration. Other states, such as North Carolina, saw significant improvement on Election Day that was not matched in early voting.
Furthermore, the results show that the overall discrepancy in voting experience between black and white Americans continues. On a national level the disparity between waiting times for black and white voters improved among Election Day voters during the 2016 election, but the gap between waiting times for black and white Americans voting early has not improved significantly since the 2012 election, according to the survey.