FEATURED DATASET:

THE 2014 AND 2016 PEI-US

This study applies the expert survey methods used since 2012 for measuring Perceptions of Electoral Integrity in contests worldwide (see data) and applies them to all 50 states + DC in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

The team of researchers is composed by Professor Pippa Norris, (Director of EIP Harvard/Sydney), Alessandro Nai (Sydney and Amsterdam Universities), Holly Ann Garnett (McGill University), and Max Grömping (Sydney University).

BACKGROUND

A wide range of reforms have been introduced into US state laws governing voter identification requirements, registration processes, and voting facilities (see Cain et al 2008; Alvarez and Grofman 2014). For example, three dozen states have introduced laws requiring citizens to show identification at the polls. Many states have also implemented facilities such as early voting, absentee ballots and postal voting. The full effect of these initiatives, however, remains to be determined.

PROBLEMS OF ELECTORAL INTEGRITY

Electoral administration in the US has become increasingly partisan and litigious ever since Bush v. Gore in Florida in the 2000 Presidential elections (Hason 2012). Questions have arisen concerning the security, integrity, inclusiveness, convenience, and accuracy of the registration and balloting processes in America.

These issues were documented in the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Electoral Administration, established by President Obama (Bauer and Gindberg 2014). The Commission reported that contemporary standards of electoral administration were highly uneven across the country.  It recommended a series of practical reforms to the election process.

The Pew Center’s Election Performance Index also suggests that in the 2012 and 2014 contests, states such as North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin performed well against a range of quality indicators in the presidential and the mid-term contests, combining voting convenience and integrity, but that others demonstrated more problems, including California, Oklahoma, and Mississippi.
 
In  2016,  a range of problems arose during the campaign and on polling day, some trivial, others more serious.  Throughout the 2016 presidential election campaign, Donald Trump warned about the risks of widespread fraud, claiming afterwards that millions of votes were cast illegally. The Democratic National Committee computer server was hacked and materials distributed through Wikileaks. The intelligence community subsequently concluded that the culprits were Russian.

METHODS AND RESEARCH DESIGN

To examine how any problems varied by state, and whether registration and balloting facilities influenced the perceived quality of elections, the study used an expert survey to compare assessments of the 2014 and 2016 elections across American states. 

For the 2014 study, the study stratified all US states based on their population size and the proportion of the Republican vote in 2010, and then used a random sampling procedure to select 21 states. For the 2016 study, all states plus DC were included.

Electoral laws and voter registration procedures were classified by state, as well as their levels of party competition and voting turnout, facilitating multilevel analysis to determine whether perceptions of electoral integrity vary according to types of context. 

Fieldwork using the PEI-US questionnaire was conducted during the month following polling day. The PEI-US-2016 survey was compiled from responses received from 726 election experts in total. The online survey questionnaire includes 49 core items on electoral integrity. These are used to construct the overall 100-point standardized Perceptions of Electoral Integrity Index and similar indices are created for each of the 11 stages in the electoral system.

The Perceptions of Electoral Integrity Index (0-100) by US State

Source: PEI-US 2016

Source: PEI-US 2016

FURTHER READING

Alvarez, R. Michael  and Bernard Grofman, Eds. 2014. Election Administration in the United States. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Bauer, Robert F.  and Benjamin L. Ginsberg, et al, 2014. The American Voting Experience: Report and Recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. Washington DC. For more details, see www.supportthevoter.gov. 


Cain, Bruce E., Todd Donovan, Todd, and C. Tolbert. 2008. Democracy in the States: Experimentation in Election Reform. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press.


Hasen, Richard L. 2012. The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown. New Haven: Yale University Press. 


Hanmer, Michael J. 2009. Discount Voting: Voter Registration Reforms and Their Effects. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Jacobson, Gary C. and Jamie L. Carson. 2015. The Politics of Congressional Elections. Ninth Edition.  NY: Rowman and Littlefield.


Minnite, Lorraine Carol. 2010. The Myth of Voter Fraud. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 


National Conference of State Legislative (NCSL) Election Law Database


2014 Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS) Statutory Overview Report  


The Pew Charitable Trust. 2014. Election Performance index.