Minority and younger voters had to face longer lines than other voters in the 2012 elections, according to a new study. Advancement Project and OurTime.org cite this “Time Tax” as one of several reasons turnout among these groups is not higher.
Virginia and Florida made headlines last November for their Election Day lines. In these and other swing-states, some voters had to wait upwards of five-to-seven hours to cast their ballots due to insufficient staffing and artificially long ballots. In his Election Night victory speech, President Barack Obama remarked on the delays, stating “we have to fix that.”
But while strict voter photo ID laws and other voter suppression techniques made it harder for minorities and young people to vote at all, the report found that they had to bear some of the longest lines of anyone, especially in those two states. Nationally, African Americans waited 23 minutes to vote on average, Latinos 19 minutes, and White voters just 12 minutes. In Miami-Dade, Florida, the polls had to remain open for an average of 73 minutes past closing to accommodate all of the voters still in line — but the closing times were latest in the precincts with the most voters under age 30. A similar correlation was evident in Orange County, Florida — and in Fairfax County, Virginia, the precincts with the most 25-to-34-year-olds had to stay open later than those rest.
The report concluded that the “Time Tax” that younger voters in Florida and Virginia had to endure might discourage them from voting in future elections, especially if expanded early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, better polling place resource formulas, and more available voter assistance are not implemented.