Why Are the (Early) Voting Lines So Long?

November 3, 2008

Why are the early voting lines so long… and why did NPR’s Carrie Kahn just report about them like they’re a big block party? We’re talking three to five hours long, when more than a half hour should be considered undemocratic.

A long voting line is not an act of nature. It is not inevitable. Nor can it be attributed to surprisingly high voter turnout — after the past eight years, there’s no surprise. Besides, election officials should have methods for handling “surprises” within their jurisdictions. Even with early voting.

“This has the potential to disenfranchise a heck of a lot more people than, dare I say it, hacked electronic voting machines,” said Tova Wang, vice president for research at Common Cause, which has been monitoring potential balloting problems ahead of this week’s vote. (LA Times, 11/2/08)

I want to know how and why long voting lines happen. If we don’t ask, and we don’t know, then we can’t press for change. We’re down to the wire now. If it’s true that the presidential race looks different when pollsters ‘narrow the pool of responses from registered voters to likely voters,’ then there should be no block-party reporting where voting isn’t smooth.

One Response to “Why Are the (Early) Voting Lines So Long?”

  1. Andrew W Says:

    Hey Rekha,

    I’ll back you up on that. I’ve voted the past six years in Cambridge, five at the same precinct, and today was the first time I had to wait in line–just over half an hour.

    While it was great to see a bunch of neighbors mingling first thing on a beautiful morning, I couldn’t help but say to myself, “If this is what happens at a normally well-run precinct in Cambridge, what’s happening at less organized precincts in swing states?”


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