Waiting to Vote in 2012Working Paper No.: 110
Date Published: 2013-04-01
Charles Stewart III, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Prepared for the conference on “The Voting Wars: Elections and the Law from Registration to Inauguration,” University of Virginia Law School, March 23, 2013, Charlottesville, Virginia. This paper uses data from the 2008 and 2012 Survey of the Performance of American Elections, which was generously funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which bears no responsibility for the analysis found herein. Waiting in line to vote is one of the clichés of Election Day, whether the venue is Kenya or the United States. The length of time waiting to vote has regularly been an issue in the voting wars of the past decade. Long lines have given both the left and the right heartburn. For the left, long lines can be evidence that service-starved neighborhoods of predominantly poor and minority voters are seeing their votes suppressed through the inadequate provisioning of voting machines and poll workers on Election Day. For the right, the sight of long lines are just an excuse used by Democratic lawyers to get polling hours extended in urban areas, solely for the benefit of Democratic candidates.