Making Government Work

The Surprising Way South Dakota Is Beating All Other States

April 11, 2014
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The Surprising Way South Dakota Is Beating All Other States
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The Mount Rushmore state is tops when it comes to elections.

Though you might not be looking forward to the repetitive television ads, the knocks of canvassers on your door, or the popping up of yard signs in your neighborhood, there is one reason to be excited about the midterms: Elections are better run now than ever before, according to a report published by the Pew Charitable Trust’s State and Consumer Initiatives program.

The average person who cast a ballot in 2012 had to wait in line for three minutes less than she did in 2008. This is obviously exciting information. In those extra minutes of freedom in November, you could listen to Beyoncé’s song “XO” or watch Anna Kendrick’s SuperBowl ad or tweet about democracy. (The latter definitely being the most socially responsible.)

In addition to lower wait times in most states, fewer people with disabilities or illnesses had trouble voting in 2012. Technology was key to the streamlining; many more states offered online voter registration, for example.

“This is a bipartisan mix of states. This is not something that only Republicans or Democrats have license to,” David Becker, Pew’s director of Election Initiatives, told the Washington Post.

The Pew survey measured state performance based on 17 different indicators, including the number of registrations and mail-in ballots that were rejected. Mississippi performed the worst: Not as many voters turned out there as in other states, and when they did, they had to wait in line longer than the national average. Mississippi has no online registration.

Other fun facts: While the District of Columbia has the highest percentage of registered residents (92 percent), voters with disabilities or illnesses had the hardest time casting votes there. Disabled voters in Washington State, where mail-in ballots are the norm, had the easiest time.

The state that fared best across all seventeen indicators was South Dakota. In fact, South Dakota has scored highest in all three Pew Elections Performance Index Reports.

Who knew South Dakota was killing it, election wise? Never again should you assume that the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore are all South Dakotans have to brag about.

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