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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

by Christie Thompson, ProPublica.

At Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, Michelle Obama was joined by 102-year-old Desiline Victor, who, like many in Florida and elsewhere, waited hours to vote on Election Day.

“By the way,” Obama said in his election speech. “We have to fix that.”

But how to fix it remains unclear.

Though new research on states’ performance in the November election reveals long lines kept thousands from voting, there’s still much we don’t know about what would best speed up the process.

Victor’s home state of Florida had the longest average wait time of any state, at 45 minutes. Victor waited for three hours. Other Floridians reported standing in line for up to seven hours.

Not every voter had Victor’s stamina: Professor Theodore Allen at Ohio State University estimated that long lines in Florida deterred at least 201,000 people, using a formula based on voter turnout data and poll closing time. The number only includes people discouraged by the wait at their specific polling site, and not those who stayed home due to “the general inconvenience of Election Day.” The real number, Allen says, is likely much higher. One study also showed that black and Hispanic voters nationwide waited longer on average than white voters.

Some legislators are already proposing changes. Last week, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner released a set of recommended election reforms that included allowing counties to expand early voting to 14 days. The proposal would reverse Governor Rick Scott’s decision to reduce early voting in the last election.

Another reason behind Florida’s long lines was the state’s incredibly long ballot, which listed the full text of 11 wordy constitutional amendments. Detzner has proposed limiting constitutional amendments to 75 words, which could also save counties money. The 2012 election in Florida’s St. Lucie County was roughly twice as expensive as 2008, a hike the county election supervisor blamed on printing, mailing and processing longer ballots.

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6 responses to “Obama Says We Need to Fix Voting Lines. But How?”

  1. docb says:

    National rules for days of voting …to begin! Funding and providing WORKING VOTING MACHINES or better, paper ballots that can be machine and hand counted! There are a myriad of things— just pass them Federally!

  2. Jim Myers says:

    Eliminating the shortened version of Early Voting could go a long way towards reducing the lines on Election Day.

    On electronic voting machines, an option to review each vote as it is being placed would probably help speed up the process.

    As an example, after submitting one of the votes, there could be a statement that you chose to vote “Yes” for an amendment. By confirming the vote at the time it is actually placed could reduce the amount of time a person spends reviewing the ballot before the final entry is made.

    Obviously, this will require testing and tweaking. And, it may show that the change did not produce any appreciable difference in the amount of time spent in the booth.

    However, the potential for shortening the voting process should at least make testing a valid reason for the test.

    I also liked Detzner’s proposal limiting constitutional amendments to 75 words.

    • tobyspeeks says:

      All though the time spent in the booth adds to the over all time it takes to vote, I’m not so sure that was the problem. For instance, where I voted there were right-wing poll watchers who argued the registration of every person who registered on election day. No matter what, even if they had all the proper identification, the poll watchers would scrutinize every little detail. The only purpose was to slow things down.

      How about when one votes using an electronic voting machine, the voter gets a receipt?

  3. roguerunners says:

    Take a look at the state of Oregon. Here all votes are cast by mail. Problem solved.

  4. Initiate online voting, text voting, smoke signal voting, be inventive, the process could get better or stay as bad as it is and get worse.

  5. mothermay1 says:

    Have more security from both the Democrats and the Republicans watching for improprieties and moving the lines a little faster.

    Maybe people can print off their ballots from the internet to help with their voting choices before they enter the polls to make voting go a little smoother.

    Maybe they need more polling places or more polling days.

    Why not abbreviate the pros and cons on Amendments without using lawyer or insurance terms that most people do not understand.

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