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The 2020 primaries and presidential election took place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitated changes to how states planned and held their elections, and how they protected voters, poll workers, and administrators.From political and institutional battles over procedural changes, to record-high turnout levels, administering elections in 2020 proved to be a series of anticipated — and unanticipated — challenges. Surges in voting by mail meant many states were breaking new ground; maintaining access to in-person voting also proved uniquely challenging during a global pandemic. Our new report looks at how well the challenges of 2020 were met, from the first primary election to the last vote counted. It also examines the technologies employed, the costs involved in running elections, and the confidence voters ultimately had in the results.
Long lines at the polls can undermine the voting experience, even to the point of discouraging people from voting. Reducing polling place wait times by measuring lines and managing polling place resources can improve the voting experience.
The vote-by-mail process can be more convenient for voters who are unable or unwilling to contend with lines at polling places on Election Day. However, voting by mail is not a voting option without risk. Outdated laws, new administrative policies, and the realities of the political process today introduce obstacles voters may not be aware of. Without recognizing that voting by mail in 2016 is very different than in years past, voters are more likely to unwittingly disenfranchise themselves.