by Max Brantley
Republicans have thrown up obstacles like this in other states, plus they've selectively made it very hard to vote in Democratic-rich regions, with inadequate election machinery producing long lines that discourage voting.
Democrats in Congress are fighting back. In the mill are measures to make it easier to register to vote and, importantly, ensuring that there are rich early voting opportunities.
Do Republicans really value the ballot. Or only ballots cast by Republicans? If the former, they'd push for easier registration, more early voting, measures to reduce lines. Ideally, on-line and postcard voting will become a national fact of life someday. What are the chances Bryan King, the great vote protector, favors universal access of this sort? He could demonstrate good intentions by companion legislation to his disenfranchisement measures. It's important.
Fourteen states are also considering whether to expand early voting, including the battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio and Virginia, according to FairVote, a nonprofit group that advocates electoral change. Florida, New York, Texas and Washington are looking at whether to ease registration and establish preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds.
Several recent polls and studies suggest that long waiting times in some places depressed turnout in 2012 and that lines were longest in cities, where Democrats outnumber Republicans. In a New York Times/CBS News poll taken shortly after Election Day, 18 percent of Democrats said they waited at least a half-hour to vote, compared with 11 percent of independents and 9 percent of Republicans.
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis determined that blacks and Hispanics waited nearly twice as long in line to vote on average than whites. Florida had the nation’s longest lines, at 45 minutes, followed by the District of Columbia, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia, according to Charles Stewart III, the political science professor who conducted the analysis.
A separate analysis, by an Ohio State University professor and The Orlando Sentinel, concluded that more than 200,000 voters in Florida “gave up in frustration” without voting.