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Minority voters are 6 times as likely as white voters to wait more than an hour to vote

Voting lines can be long. If you’re not white, they’re probably longer.

Americans wait to vote in Missouri. Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

Here’s a horrible fact: Minority voters are six times as likely as white voters to stand in line for more than an hour to vote.

Emily Badger explained the research in the New York Times:

Early voters, urban voters and minority voters are all more likely to wait and wait and wait. In predominantly minority communities, the lines are about twice as long as in predominantly white ones, [Stephen] Pettigrew has found. And minority voters are six times as likely as whites to wait longer than an hour to vote. Those disparities persist even within the same town or county, suggesting they don’t reflect simply the greater difficulty of putting on elections in populous cities. …

Voting essentially costs people more in minority communities, and that also makes them particularly susceptible to the long wait’s other effect. Mr. Pettigrew’s research suggests that for each hour would-be voters wait, their probability of voting in the next election drops by one percentage point. That may not sound like a lot, but Mr. Pettigrew estimates that this means about 200,000 people didn’t vote in 2014 because of the lines they encountered in 2012 (and that’s accounting for the lower turnout we’d expect in a midterm election).

The statistics are alarming enough. But what’s worse is in some cases this disparity is intentional. States, particularly those controlled by Republicans, have made several changes this year, from strict voter ID laws to polling place closures, to make voting harder — typically in a way that targets minority voters who tend to vote Democrat.

In North Carolina, for example, Republicans even bragged about suppressing black turnout, claiming that reduced black early voting turnout in the state this year shows that the “North Carolina Obama coalition” is “crumbling.”

And that was after the state party had already gotten in trouble for voter suppression: A few months prior, a federal court struck down several voting restrictions passed by North Carolina GOP lawmakers, writing in a scathing opinion that Republicans had “target[ed] African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” (The decision put voter ID requirements and early voting cuts on hold, but Republican-controlled election boards still managed to close down several polling places for early voting.)

But even if the long voting lines aren’t intentional, the result is still racially skewed. In America, whether voting is easy for you or not could ultimately depend on your race.


Watch: Americans with disabilities often struggle to vote

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