We Need to Talk About These Long Voting Lines

November 8th 2016

Almie Rose

Would you be discouraged from voting if you showed up to your polling place at dawn in an effort to beat the crowds and saw a line that spanned almost two blocks?

Unfortunately, for millions of Americans, this is not a hypothetical situation. And these long voting lines aren't because so many people are inspired by America and want to show democracy in action — it's because polling places have been shut down in some states like Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina, which has resulted in ridiculously long lines.

Does your polling place remind you of these?

On Tuesday, Twitter users from across the country shared photos and descriptions of wait times.

Voter suppression

Perhaps the lack of working voting machines and other necessities, which would help to facilitate quick and easy voting, might be a purposeful attempt at voter suppression?

Writer Mark Joseph Stern wrote about early voting for Slate, and he attributed the "insane early voting lines" as a "direct result of Republican voter suppression."

Stern wrote that it began when Republicans asked for information on voting demographics so they could figure out specifically whom to target in their efforts to suppress votes (emphasis ours):

"Just days after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder—thereby allowing the state to restrict voting without federal oversight—the overwhelmingly Republican Legislature requested data of voting preferences by race. The legislators then promptly passed an omnibus bill that, in the words of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, 'target[ed] African Americans with almost surgical precision.' A key provision of the new law slashed early voting, including several days of Sunday voting, which black voters favored. As the state explained in court with startling candor, 'counties with Sunday voting' were 'disproportionately black' and 'disproportionately Democratic'—a fact that persuaded the Legislature to severely cut back early voting."

In July, this attempt was struck down by a federal appeals court, but the struggle for fair voting in states like North Carolina remained. Attempts by Republican Elections Board Chariman Bill McAnulty to right it in Randolph County, North Carolina, were not favored, according to Reuters:

"'I became a villain, quite frankly,' recalled McAnulty at a state board of elections meeting in September that had been called to resolve disputes over early voting plans. 'I got accused of being a traitor and everything else by the Republican party,' McAnulty said.

The NAACP sued North Carolina over voter suppression in October, claiming that "the cancelation of 4,500 voter registrations in three North Carolina counties — Beaufort, Moore and Cumberland — violates the National Voting Registration Act (NVRA)," reports ATTN:'s Lucy Tiven.

And North Carolina is just one example. There are many states that use voter ID laws that ultimately -- if not outright discourage voting -- certainly make it more difficult to vote.

Broken voting machines

There have also been reports of multiple broken machines across the country on Tuesday, reports International Business Times. And not just in North Carolina...

But also, yes, in North Carolina.