To rank the states, we devised a system of awarding points based on how each state fared according to each of the 22 factors in the report. We did this because the scales on which to evaluate states vary depending on the factor: Some factors rank states on either a “yes” or “no” scale, while others can assign rankings from 1 to 51—including the District of Columbia. For each factor, therefore, the best performing state(s) receive 0 points and the worse-performing states receive more points, with the worst-performing state(s) receiving 10 points.
States were then ranked within each category by calculating the average point values for the number of factors for which they were evaluated. When data for a factor was not available for certain states, that factor was omitted from the state average, so as to neither help nor hurt the state’s ranking.
Overall state rankings were determined by averaging the average point values for each of the three categories. This means that each factor was weighted equally with respect to how much it counted in its category, and that no single category counted more than the other. This also means that for the categories containing more factors, such as accessibility of the ballot, each factor has less overall influence on the overall rankings. People can and should contend that some factors are more important than others, but we felt this method was the clearest and fairest way.
This report credits all laws that have been passed, not just those that have been implemented. It uses the most up-to-date public sources to evaluate states as accurately as possible. It is always possible that certain data points may need to be updated as more information becomes available. The authors welcome submissions to update a state’s performance in any factor included in this report.
The table below details the process for awarding points for each factor. For a more detailed methodology and complete citations, click here to see the full report.