Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: New Report Ranks Virginia’s Best and Worst Counties for Voting Access
Press Release

RELEASE: New Report Ranks Virginia’s Best and Worst Counties for Voting Access

Press Contacts

  • Madeline Meth

New County-by-County Analysis of Virginia’s Election Administration in the 2012 Election

Washington, D.C. – The Virginia localities with the worst voting access are Norfolk City, Harrisonburg City, and Radford City, according to a new report released today by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The report identifies Virginia’s best and worst performers for voting access and voter experience by looking at six factors that reflect voters’ ability to participate in the democratic process: voter turnout, overall voter registration rate, rate of registered voters purged from voting rolls, provisional ballots cast, provisional ballots rejected, and absentee ballots rejected.

In addition to examining Virginia’s worst election offenders, the report offers county-by-county analysis of 16 other swing states—states with the smallest margin of victory between the two presidential candidates in 2012: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The report finds that with election administration delegated to officials and boards in more than 3,000 counties and localities in the United States, the ease with which one exercises his or her right to vote can depend on where he or she lives. This pattern played out in every state that was analyzed.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Norfolk City, Harrisonburg City, and Radford City all stood out for having poor voter participation rates. All three are at the top of the list for having the worst voter registration rates. They also make up three of the four worst Virginia counties on voter turnout.
  • Norfolk City and Harrisonburg City also performed poorly on provisional ballots. Out of Virginia localities that were analyzed, Norfolk City had the second-worst rate of provisional ballots cast and the ninth-worst rate of provisional ballots rejected. Meanwhile, Harrisonburg City had the 5th-worst rate of provisional ballots rejected and the 11th-worst rate of provisional ballots cast.
  • Radford City also performed poorly on a couple of other election administration factors—the rate of absentee ballots rejected and the rate of voters removed from the voter rolls. It had the third-worst rate of absentee ballots rejected and the fifth-worst rate of voters removed from the voter rolls.

The report’s findings provide insights that can help officials, policymakers, and advocates better understand voting administration practices that work. By comparing voter access and experience across Virginia’s counties, officials can determine the best practices for ensuring that citizens have an equal opportunity to participate in the democratic process.

Read the report: Unequal Access: A County-by-County Analysis of Election Administration in Swing States in the 2012 Election by Anna Chu, Joshua Field, and Charles Posner

To speak with experts on this issue, please contact Madeline Meth at mmeth@americanprogressaction.org or 202.741.6277.

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