Tova Wang's got an interesting piece on voter suppression in The Century Foundation's Taking Note. According to her, it wasn't high tech hackers doing the work, but old school class discrimination:
Elections officials, whether through incompetence or intentional efforts to suppress the vote, did more damage than any particular technology might have done by failing to supply sufficient numbers of voting machines. And as the House Judiciary Democratic Committee investigation found in Ohio, "There was a wide discrepancy between the availability of voting machines in more minority, Democratic and urban areas as compared to more Republican, suburban and exurban areas." Right after the election the Washington Post reported that, "local political activists seeking a recount analyzed how Franklin County officials distributed voting machines. They found that 27 of the 30 wards with the most machines per registered voter showed majorities for Bush. At the other end of the spectrum, six of the seven wards with the fewest machines delivered large margins for Kerry."
All over the country, voters had to wait in line for up to nine hours. Interestingly, however, some of the worst of it was in key battleground states. Observing early voting in a Broward County, Florida shopping mall, I myself encountered numerous voters, some of them elderly, who had waited five to six hours to vote. The worst of it evidently was on the campus of Kenyon College in Ohio where there were only two voting machines. According to the Beacon Journal, one student waited ten hours—until 2 a.m.—to vote.
Such waiting times are tantamount to disenfranchisement for many average working Americans, possibly in violation of federal voting laws and constitutional guarantees. How many people can stay away from their jobs for hours on end to vote? What about the single working mother who has to deal with her job and her kids? What about the man who is working two or three jobs to make ends meet?
Something we should fix before the midterms roll around. Paging Dr. Dean?
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