How long should we have to wait to vote?


The Presidential Commission on Election Administration recommends citizens should wait no longer than 30 minutes to vote. Many of the conditions that led to hours-long lines on Election Day 2012 were found to be “identifiable and solvable.” Indeed, we know many difficulties were created deliberately for political advantage.

The panel recommended:

  • States adopt online voter registration to make signup easier.
  • States share data with each other and synchronize voter lists to help create an accurate database of eligible voters.
  • Polling places be located close to voters and offer sufficient space, parking, infrastructure and accessibility for voters with disabilities.
  • Elections officials give voters better information on wait times — perhaps by providing an Internet feed from individual polling places — before voters leave home.
  • States integrate voter data acquired through motor vehicle departments with statewide voter registration lists.
  • Jurisdictions make bilingual poll workers available at polling places where significant numbers of voters don’t speak English.
  • States adopt safeguards for mail balloting, including online tracking of absentee ballots so voters can verify the status of their ballot.

According to Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University, election officials should follow the panel’s recommendations. Waldman said: “The commission’s report marks a significant advance in the way we think about voting” “(It) makes clear that there are achievable, bipartisan reforms that can be implemented now to transform voting in America. Most importantly, it recognizes that we can’t fix long lines until we first fix our outdated voter registration system.”

Control of elections by local officials is well established. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited literacy tests and similar devices that were historically used to disfranchise minorities, and imposed restrictions on States known to maintain unjust systems, did not establish nationwide standards for voting. I see no reason not to have national standards for voting, perhaps including voting by mail or internet. Driving to the polls to stand in line to cast a ballot seems so out-of-date, especially when officials in some jurisdictions make it difficult .

© William Hungerford – January 2014

And then, wouldn’t you know:

About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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