When Mostafa Zamanian voted last week in Shorewood Hills, Wis., he got lucky: He was in the short line. “Of 19 in hallway, only two of us were N-Z and didn’t have to wait to vote,” he tweeted. Like other places, Mr. Zamanian’s precinct split up voters based on their last names. Those beginning with A to M were steered one way, while those beginning with N to Z were directed elsewhere. Intuitively, that makes sense: It’s the midpoint of the alphabet—so you end up with two equal queues, right? Wrong. In the U.S., surnames are not evenly distributed, and in most places, it’s not even close.
Nationally, the last names of 64% of registered voters begin with letters in the first half of the alphabet, according to a Journal analysis of voting data from L2, a nonpartisan voter file vendor. That trend is echoed in nearly every county in the country, and in some cases, it’s even more extreme.
In Louisiana’s Avoyelles Parish, 74% of registered voters have names that begin with letters A to M. In Rolette, N.D., 73% do. And in Robeson County, N.C., it’s 70%.