Democracy Fund

The Democracy Fund invests in organizations working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people.

Democracy Fund

University of Rhode Island: RI Votes

The Rhode Island Voter OperaTions and Elections Systems (RI VOTES), a project of the University of Rhode Island Foundation, uses data-driven simulations of polling places to recommend solutions for reducing Election Day wait times.


On Election Day, some voters across the country experience long wait times before casting their ballot. In 2016, the longest Rhode Island wait times exceeded 90 minutes. The RI VOTES project works with the Rhode Island Department of State and with local election officials to address these issues. More accurate allocation of resources in 2018 aided in the reduction of wait times across the state and will inform preparations for the 2020 election cycle.

Phase 1 of the RI Votes project included the development of simulations that predict wait times based on pre-existing data, facility layouts, resource availability, the types of technology used, and the level of turnout. Using these simulations, the RI VOTES project made recommendations to Rhode Island election officials to inform Election Day preparations. This grant to the engineering school at the University of Rhode Island provides capacity for them to take what they have learned in Phase I of the RI VOTES project to the next step and disseminate the tools they have created nationally. The models initially used Rhode Island-specific data, but were adapted to a generalized model which can be used nationwide.

Total Commitment

2019: Up to $198,095 over one year. 2018: Up to $99,961 over one year.