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Report: Texas Ranks Low in Election Performance

Despite national improvement in election performance between 2008 and 2012, Texas ranked among the lowest-performing states, according to new data released Tuesday.

Despite national improvement in election performance between 2008 and 2012, Texas ranked among the lowest-performing states, according to new data released Tuesday.

According to the the Pew Charitable Trusts’ latest Elections Performance Index, which measures factors like voter turnout, wait times at polls and rates of ballot problems, Texas had the fifth-largest drop in performance over the four years.

Forty states' scores improved during this period, likely due to factors such as more access to online voter registration. But Texas was one of 10 states whose scores declined. 

“It clearly indicates there is some kind of inefficiency in the process,” David Becker, the director of Pew’s election initiatives, said of Texas.

Along with Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, West Virginia and the District of Columbia ranked in the bottom 25 percent.

Texas had some of the lowest registration and turnout rates and the fifth-largest increase in the number of provisional ballots that were not accepted, according to the data.

The scores of 21 states and the District of Columbia rose at a higher rate than the national average. Scores in 19 states improved but were still below the national average. The District of Columbia improved the most — 20 percent — from 2008 to 2012 but still ranked among the lower performers.

“States that utilized the latest technology to conduct data matching of state voter registration lists … had a reduced rate of provisional ballots cast and rejected and in individuals who experienced registration problems,” said a news release from Pew on the data. 

The data also measured factors like the availability of online tools for voters and the number of rejected military and overseas ballots and voter registrations.

In Texas, the rate of registration rejections declined sharply, dropping nearly 20 percent to a lower-than-average 2.6 percent.

In 2012, Texas did not report information on several of the indicators, including some data on the number of military and overseas ballots rejected and early voting. 

“One of the biggest challenges the state faces is that their voter information isn’t up to date, so the ballots might not show up at the right place if their address doesn’t match up," Becker said, referring to mail-in ballots. "It is very likely the ballot isn’t reaching the voter in the right way.” 

Georgia suffered the sharpest decline in its election performance rate, dropping 7 points from 2008 to 2012. The state’s voter turnout fell below the national average, and the state had one of the largest increases in nonvoting due to disability or illness.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/04/08/report-texas-ranks-low-state-election-performance/.

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