Black Americans Wait Twice as Long to Vote as Whites

It wasn’t until 1870 that the 15th Amendment gave African Americans (well men, anyway) the right to vote, but somehow black Americans are still waiting to vote – in line, that is.

In a new review of the previous presidential election, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (JCPES) confirmed that black Americans spent twice as much time waiting in line to vote than white Americans.

The average wait time for whites was 12 minutes, compared to 23 minutes for African Americans. Native Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos clocked in at 13, 15 and 19 minutes respectively.

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It’s not just inconsiderate to make people wait longer – it’s an act of disenfranchisement. Other research has found that nearly 750,000 American citizens left their polling place without voting because the lines were too long.

I already know that some people are going to read this and say, “So what if you have to wait? This is your civic duty, you should wait as long as it takes!”

Sure – but that’s a lot easier to say when you’re not the one experiencing these prolonged delays. When your boss is waiting for you to show up to work or your kids are waiting to get picked up from school, you might feel the same time crunch.

Bare in mind – some African Americans waited as long as seven hours to vote. Those kind of wait times are unacceptable and inexcusable.

Inexcusable, yet here are the excuses anyway. Communities of color lacked the resources necessary to expedite the voting process. Granted, the government should be providing these resources to all precincts in an equitable manner, but it doesn’t always shake out that way.

According to the JCPES, polling locations in black communities were more likely to be understaffed and have fewer voting machines. Both of these deficiencies understandably lengthened the wait time for each voter. On top of that, conservative attempts to squash early voting opportunities disproportionately impacted communities of color, causing more such voters to show up in person on Election Day than in the past.

When the Atlantic investigated this subject a few years ago, the publication found that race was the only drastic factor in determining voting wait time. The wait differences between both liberal and conservative communities and affluent and poor communities were fairly negligible.

Whether or not you want to say that racism is intentionally at play, race definitely seems to be a factor in how long people are waiting to vote.

Obviously, this is a situation that the government should feel obligated to remedy. Fortunately, the JCPES has some suggestions to ensure that this upcoming presidential election runs more smoothly and equitably for people of all ethnicities.

For starters, the government can look into previous wait election wait times and provide the right number of workers and machines (working machines – you wouldn’t believe how many show up broken) to keep the lines moving quickly and smoothly. From there, officials should be prepared to reallocate these resources between polling locations if wait disparities arise.

It’s probably going to take more than one election cycle to fix this racial disparity, but if officials do a better job of at least monitoring it this time, they should be able to easily identify the problems in order to fix it in the future.

Photo Credit: David Goehring

65 comments

Margaret Goodman
Margaret Goodman2 years ago

Joseph V. wrote, " ... They all sign in and get in a line to vote. ... " It seems that he and some others believe that polling places are racially integrated. My guess is that that is not true and that Republican officials often see to it that Democratic polling places are understaffed and under equipped with working machines.

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Will Rogers
Will Rogers2 years ago

@David f. Take guns away from everyone, especially whites! And we in Britain may have broomsticks to fight the government' which is about the same use your guns will be against your gubment with their war planes drones and bombs! But really? You think the British government will attack it's people? Are you nuts? And you think your gubment is going to attack you? Ever heard of Paranoia? You say Guns are here to save innocent lives...are you insane? Did you understand your own words? And as for guns stopping ruling class servitude - your country has the most guns and coincidentally the most ruling class servitude! You also say that guns maintain individual freedom from thugs. Well It's because of guns why your cops are so thuggish. Pushing a gun in a motorists face for not signalling a lane change is an adequate response ...for thugs! British police would never kill someone over a traffic stop and neither does any other civilised nation. Stop trying to apologise for attitudes that are clearly wrong in order to justify the systemic oppression and terrorism of blacks in America. Your dislike of blacks is evident and quite interesting. I hope this doesn't put you off writing your wacky opinions, it's like a time machine, looking 50 years into the past, you're hilarious! In a way I'm glad that you either don't use or don't have a passport.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown2 years ago

It's all about voter suppression. Forget the practically non-existent "voter fraud", it is these actions and the so-called voter ID laws that are used to disenfranchise voters and steal elections.

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Telica R.
Telica R2 years ago

Thank you for sharing :)

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Anne F.
Anne F2 years ago

Local pressure on the states is needed. Let's lower barriers to voting.

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Ronald Walker
RONALD Walker2 years ago

This is wrong and very wrong. My feeling is it comes from deep south. Sorry but the olds south still a place of racism. Please people of color stand tall and fight this as I will to. I just don't have the power to stop people with little mines from being stupid!!! Remember it was the Republican party that put in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment in the 1860's and now the Republican party is trying to overturn all 3 amendment.

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Will Rogers
Will Rogers2 years ago

@david f. So you have a problem with blacks? Don't you think they want justice! Don't you think they want fairness and a good life? Don't you think they want to have a nice life too? Yes! Take away whites guns, and blacks! The only people that should have guns is the army and possibly the Injuns. Armed Cops need to have degrees in sociology and accountability before they can be trusted.
And people don't really need to hunt anymore, We have shops now, and seriously...if you can afford guns and ammo then you can probably afford food. Maybe get some friends and get a warmer sociable society, cultivate black friends and maybe find yourself a sharp black woman and integrate, be United. Be progressive, you can do it David! I bet there's a part of you that wants to! I bet your internet porn history agrees! And no! I haven't hacked your computer. But I do understand the nature of us blokes.

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Fi T.
Past Member 2 years ago

Equality???

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sandy Gardner
sandy Gardner2 years ago

Terrible!!!

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