2014 Midterm Election Survey Released

More voters are registering online, and military and civilian absentee ballot submissions from overseas are on the rise.

Those are some of the key findings from a recent report of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, or EAC. As the American electorate turns its focus toward the 2016 presidential election, the EAC, an independent, bipartisan commission that serves as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration, released its Election Administration and Voter Survey for the 2014 midterm election. The 2014 survey included figures from the National Voter Registration Act—also known as NVRA or “motor voter”—and the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

Shelley McThomas, elections director in Kansas City, Mo., said the survey provides critical data for elections administrators.

“I consider it the equivalent of the State of the Union, in that it is the report on the state of voting and democracy in America,” McThomas said.

The usefulness of the survey goes beyond the local polling place because the data collected by the commission can also be used to compare states to one another. McThomas described the survey as a “yardstick” that allows states an opportunity to compare practices with results. “Election administration procedures and laws vary from state to state,” she said.

According to EAC Chairwoman Christy McCormick, some significant changes were made to the 2014 midterm election survey.

“The EAC included 17 additional questions in the U.S. Military and Civilian Overseas Voting section of the survey,” said McCormick. “This content was taken from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program Post-Election Survey in order to combine the surveys and reduce the burden on election administrators who are tasked with responding to the surveys.” 

According to McCormick, “approximately 81 million people voted in the 2014 midterm election” and “over 60 percent of voters still vote at polling places on Election Day.” She also said that on Election Day “there were over 114,000 polling places across the nation, and states employed over 700,000 poll workers.” 

Listed below are more of the survey’s key findings.

  • States and territories reported counting 98.2 percent of the domestic absentee ballots submitted. The most common reason for absentee ballot rejection was a missed deadline for returning the ballot, followed by invalid signatures.
  • According to the states and territories, 892,202 provisional ballots were submitted, and 80.3 percent of those ballots were counted in whole or in part. Of the 171,443 that were not counted, the most common reason was because the voter was not properly registered to vote.

NVRA: Key Report Findings

  • Thirty-three states reported receiving voter registration applications over the Internet.
  • Internet voter registration applications accounted for 6.5 percent of the total number received, up from 1.7 percent in 2010.
  • States found invalid or otherwise rejected about 984,000 voter registration applications, a decrease from the 1.3 million voter registration applications rejected in 2010.
  • States removed more than 14.8 million voters from voter registration lists. The NVRA allows states to remove voters who have not voted in two consecutive federal general elections and failed to respond to a confirmation notice from an elections office.

U.S. Military and Civilian Overseas Voters: Key Report Findings

  • States transmitted 420,094 ballots to U.S. military and civilian overseas voters for the 2014 election, with just over half (51.4 percent) going to civilian citizens living overseas. Another 46 percent went to uniformed service members.
  • Of all of the U.S. military and civilian overseas ballots transmitted, 34.6 percent (145,509) were returned and submitted for counting, up from 30.2 percent in 2010.
  • States reported counting 137,683 ballots from U.S. military and civilian overseas voters, or 94.6 percent of the total submitted for counting.

With an eye toward future federal elections, McCormick said there were no planned changes for the 2016 election survey and any changes made to the 2018 election survey would “be calculated only to make the data collection easier and more efficient for election administrators.”     

With legal questions regarding such issues as voter identification and redistricting on the horizon, McThomas noted that “the legal challenges [in the states] will be watched by all, as well as how jurisdictions will be impacted by any legislative mandates that occur in early 2016.”

The Election Assistance Commission provides an executive summary of the report on their webpage. 

For a CSG infographic about the 2014 midterm elections survey, click here.