Election experts and activists are calling for an overhaul of the voting system after hours-long lines, machine malfunctions and other obstacles plagued polling places around the country last week and in some cases delayed the results of races for days. Buoyed by President Barack Obama’s promise to “fix” the system in his acceptance speech, interested parties are coalescing around a campaign to retool the registration and voting process to avoid a meltdown in tight contests down the road.
Though there were no debacles reminiscent of the 2000 elections, voters in Maryland, South Carolina, Florida and a handful of other states reported waiting three hours or more to cast ballots. In southern Virginia, the waits were as long as seven hours. Media outlets called the tight U.S. Senate race before some people waiting there had voted.
“We are still in a kind of 19th-century registration system,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. “We dodged a bullet with it not being close,” he added, referring to the presidential race.