Do you believe that every voter should be able to vote in 30 minutes or less?
But yet, once again, we were faced with photo after photo of impossibly long lines at polling stations in both Georgia and South Carolina yesterday. This is what voter suppression looks like:
The Brennan Center for Justice just published a report, Waiting to Vote: Racial Disparities in Election Day Experiences, full of data and recommendations for how we can improve the voting experience across the board. The goal is to ensure that every voter has the same experience no matter where they live.
You can read the full report HERE, and a summary with their recommendations HERE. The summary is short and easy to read — if you’re passionate about voting rights and decreasing voter suppression, I highly encourage you to look it over.
Among other things, their report shows that around 3 million voters had to wait longer than 30 minutes to cast their vote in the 2018 midterms, and that many of these voters were concentrated in the southeastern U.S., home to the largest shares of voters of color. Furthermore, an estimated half million voters end up not voting because of polling place issues, like long waits.
Their chief recommendation for the 2020 election is not to ensure that every polling place has the same resources — that did not in itself produce equitable outcomes for every voter — but instead that states should invest MORE resources to those polling locations that have had issues with long lines.
Another recommendation is for elections officials to PLAN for a spike in voting in 2020, instead of relying on past turnout trends, and then allocate resources accordingly.
When it comes right down to it, there is absolutely no reason that polling places can’t solve these issues. Businesses study how they can reduce wait lines and have a lot of solutions that polling places can use, too.
What we can do
You can always call your local elections officials and ask them questions like, “What are you doing to ensure that voters don’t have to wait more than 30 minutes to vote?” and “Are you planning for a spike in voting in November?” If you want to call your elections officials yourself, use THIS TOOL to get their contact information.
However, in order to put real pressure on your elections officials, you might want to also call your local League of Women Voters or ACLU to ask how they are working with elections officials in your county to ensure equitable outcomes.
There’s no time to wait. November is almost here.
For further reading:
Report: Improving the Voter Experience
Report: Report and Recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (January 2014)
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