How did each state's election apparatus perform in the 2012 election? Better than 2008 but still not all that well, according to the annual study, conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts, of state-by-state elections.
"Overall, 40 states and the District improved their scores in the 2012 election, compared with 2008," reads the report. "The scores of 21 states and the District rose at a rate greater than the national average, 19 states’ averages improved but didn’t keep pace with the national average, and 10 states’ performance declined. The District improved the most — 20 points — from 2008 to 2012 but still remained among the lower performers."
Pew scored the states based on something called the Elections Performance Index, a amalgam of stats that includes wait times at polling places, voter registration rejections, voter turnout and the efficacy of voting technology. (You can read the full explanation of EPI here.) Here's the Pew chart comparing how states did between 2008 and 2012 and how they rank against the national average EPI score, which was 68 percent in 2012 and 64 percent in 2008.
North Dakota is the shining star of election performance, with an 86 percent score in 2012 and an 84 percent score in 2008. Mississippi brings up the rear again with a 44 percent score in 2012 and a 40 percent rating in 2008. Alabama was the only other state to come close to Mississippi's poor performance with a 56 percent score in 2012 -- although the the Yellowhammer State deserves some credit since its score was a lowly 42 percent in 2008.
Of the 22 states whose EPI score ranked below the national average in 2012, 16 were carried by Mitt Romney in 2012. Of the 17 states whose EPI was below the national average in 2008 and 2012, 16 were carried by Romney in the last presidential election. (California was the lone two-time low performer won by President Obama.)
Those numbers are even more striking when you consider the voting eligible population of the states that underperformed the national average in EPI in 2012. Pew built that chart as well; the bigger the circle around the state, the larger the number of eligible voters.
As you can see, some of the states with the largest number of eligible voters -- California, Texas, New York, Arizona, Tennessee and Indiana -- are below the EPI Mendoza line.
President Obama has made election reform -- from voter registration to voter ID fights to technological advances -- a priority of his second term. A bipartisan commission he convened released its recommendations earlier this year, but action in many states is slow. In Mississippi, for example, state election officials are preparing to implement the state's voter ID law in the June 3 primary.