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Pew study gives First State solid grades for how it handles elections

A new study says Delaware is in the top twenty-five percent of states when it comes to what it calls “election performance.”

The Pew Charitable Trusts looked at 17 different factors like wait times on election day and ease of voter registration to determine how states fared between the 2008 and 2012 elections

Zachary Markovits, manager of Pew’s election initiatives says Delaware is a national leader in one particular area.

“Delaware really is a pioneer, especially in improving its voter registration system. One thing to note about Delaware is that their motor vehicle practices is one of the best in the nation,” said Markovits.

Delaware saw a 20 percent drop in voter registration rejections between the 2008 and 2012 elections, according to the Pew study.

First State elections commissioner Elaine Manlove says the vast improvement comes specifically from the E-signature program implemented in 2009. E-signature allowed Delawareans to complete the entire voting registration process electronically at the DMV, rather than by mail which creates potential problems.

“That’s probably all attributable to E-signature. There’s always sometimes a disconnect between the person coming in for service and the person taking the information, but now if they put a street in that’s not accurate or an address that doesn’t work on that street they know it,” said Manlove. “So a lot of things get corrected that weren’t able to be corrected before.”

On the other hand, the Pew study found that the state’s “residual vote rate”, the amount of votes cast versus those counted, tripled from 2008 to 2012.

Manlove says the state is looking into possible reasons for that increase.

Pew says that the rate may be an indicator of voting technology accuracy issues.

The Pew report compared election administration performance between 2008 and 2012 across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. According to the report, overall state election performance nationwide improved by 4.4 percent, with average voting wait times reduced by three minutes.