In 2008, when reports surfaced of voters waiting in line for two, three, and, in one remarkable case in Georgia, 12 hours to vote, at Facing South we wrote about why this is a voting rights issue. Here we go again. Over the last two weeks, reports have flooded in of voters waiting for hours at early voting sites to cast their ballots. Florida has again dominated the headlines, with accounts of voters standing in line for up to six hours. In South Florida, Democrats sued after Gov. Rick Scott opted against extending early voting hours, as his Republican predecessor had in 2008. (Scott insisted voting was running smoothly.)
Some news reports described the huge delays as natural, even a good sign of voter enthusiasm in the democratic process. In reality, multi-hour delays at the polls are a significant voting rights problem, one that disproportionately impacts historically disenfranchised voters.
This isn’t just conjecture. In its 2008 voting survey, the Census Bureau asked registered voters if they actually voted — if they didn’t, why not. The most common reason given for skipping the election was that they were too busy or had a conflicting schedule (17 percent of respondents). The second-biggest reason: an illness or disability (15 percent).
Both of those vote-deterring factors are exacerbated by long lines. The problem also disproportionately affects lower-income voters who don’t have the flexibility to leave work for extended hours, or who have children but don’t have the resources to pay for child care.
Full Article: Why long lines are a voting rights issue.