Long lines at polls have to go

Thursday, February 7, 2013
Text Size: A | A

Voter turnout was a dismal 57.5 percent in last November’s election, despite the availability of an early voting option in many states. A story in Tuesday’s New York Times pointed a finger at long lines at the polls, causing delays that sent many would-be voters home or back to work before they could cast their ballots. That’s inexcusable, and regardless of what political party those prospective voters identify with, where they live, or what their race or socioeconomic status is, it needs to be fixed.

A number of recent polls and studies cited in the story suggest that lines were longest in the most densely populated, lower-income urban areas. Indeed, blacks and Hispanics, who live mostly in large cities, reported waiting nearly twice as long as whites, 20.2 minutes vs. 12.7 minutes.

Surely, 20 minutes isn’t too long to wait to vote, but bear in mind those are just the national averages. In some states — Florida, for example — the waits averaged 45 minutes, and in some cities, the delays were as long as eight hours! No wonder, according to an analysis by an Ohio State University professor and the Orlando Sentinel, more than 200,000 Floridians “gave up in frustration” before casting their ballots.

Unfortunately, what should be a matter of concern to politicians of all stripes has become a partisan issue, primarily because the disenfranchised voters are more inclined to vote Democratic. So Republicans are ready to fight any legislation at the federal level that would make on-line registration and/or early voting easier. That includes a bill sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

Ideally, states would tend to these issues by themselves, and do so fairly, but it’s been proven that not all of them do. Money might have something to do with it, since there’s a direct correlation between a precinct’s size and the length of its lines. But if states can reduce those lines by letting people vote early, and by registering them online (so they don’t have to cast affidavit ballots on Election Day), without increasing voter fraud — which is nothing of the problem that some Republicans allege — they should be allowed to do so.

Share story: print print email email facebook facebook reddit reddit


February 7, 2013
5:49 a.m.
Phils2008 says...

"Voter fraud — which is nothing of the problem that some Republicans allege" That's the narrative pushed by all Democrats. If illegal aliens were voting for Republicans who gave them free stuff you'd be squealing like pigs. Your phoney altruistic reasons against simple voter ID are pushed to mask your desire to ensure every illegal vote possible goes to the left. If lines are your big concern then maybe the voting booths should just have pictures of a Jackass and an Elephant. You could put Obama phones under the Jackass to make it even easier for freeloaders to decide which party to vote for. Would that make you happy?

February 7, 2013
8:13 a.m.
albright1 says...

Typical Democratic party crap. Why is 57.5% voter turnout dismal?? Maybe only 57.5% of the people wanted to vote. 20 minutes is not nearly twice as long as 12 minutes.(math is hard). 200,000 Floridians gave up in frustration is an unsubstantiated claim. It's been "proven" that some states don't fairly deal with these issues?? Oh yeah? Who proved that?? Register on-line?? and then don't require ID when voting?? No fraud potential there!

February 7, 2013
6:13 p.m.
Fritzdawg says...

The free phone thing started under Reagan, not Obama.
The term "RonniePhone", would be much more appropriate.

Log-in to post a comment.

columnists & blogs

Log into

Forgot Password?