Over the past decade, Republican legislators have pushed a number of measures critics say are blatant attempts to suppress minority voting, including voter ID requirements, shortened early voting periods, and limits on same-day voter registration. But minority voters are often disenfranchised in another, more subtle way: Polling places without enough voting machines or poll workers.
These polling places tend to have long lines to vote. Long lines force people to eventually give up and go home, depressing voter turnout. And that happens regularly all across the country in precincts with lots of minority voters, even without voter ID or other voting restrictions in place.
Nationally, African Americans waited about twice as long to vote in the 2012 election as white people, (23 minutes on average versus 12 minutes); Hispanics waited 19 minutes. White people who live in neighborhoods whose residents are less than 5 percent minority, had the shortest of all wait times, just 7 minutes. These averages obscure some of the unusually long lines in some areas. In South Carolina’s Richland County, which is 48 percent black and is home to 14 percent of the state’s African American registered voters, some people waited more than five hours to cast their ballots.