Voter Suppression Today

Emily Badger, writing in the NYT, reports that minorities are facing very long lines and waits to vote in many parts of the US. This is unconscionable.

In Charlotte, the lines for the first wave of early balloting in North Carolina forced some voters to wait more than two hours. In Las Vegas over the weekend, voters were still waiting outside a polling place in a Mexican grocery store two hours after it was set to close. In Cincinnati, one epic queue on Sunday traveled half a mile (and then across Twitter).

There are two ways to interpret these scenes.

“It does give some indication of the health of our democracy that you have all these people who are excited enough to vote that they’ll wait in a long line,” said Stephen Pettigrew, a Ph.D. candidate in Harvard’s department of government who studies polling lines. “But it’s also an indication, at least in some areas, that there is a problem.”

One problem is that some groups are much more likely to face long lines than others. Another, according to Mr. Pettigrew’s recent research, is that the people who do wait are less likely to vote in the future as a result.

Early voters, urban voters and minority voters are all more likely to wait and wait and wait. In predominantly minority communities, the lines are about twice as long as in predominantly white ones, Mr. Pettigrew has found. And minority voters are six times as likely as whites to wait longer than an hour to vote. Those disparities persist even within the same town or county, suggesting they don’t reflect simply the greater difficulty of putting on elections in populous cities.


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