Ezra has a post up about how other countries miraculously don’t have long lines for voting the way Americans do. I’m on board 100% with opposing long lines and thinking something fishy is going on. You know why? Because guess who doesn’t have long lines to vote? Texas. (Austin, at least, though none of my relatives or friends who’ve voted elsewhere say they’ve waited in line. I just realized I’ve only ever voted in Austin, having lived here since before I could vote.) The only time I’ve waited in line to vote was during the Democratic primary this year, and it was the last hour of the last day of early voting. And even then it was 30-45 minutes. And in that case, it was obvious that they just didn’t have the time to handle what was something like 10 to 20 times the capacity of voters they usually get during primaries, so it was understandable.
Otherwise, the idea of waiting in line is baffling. Our early voting stations have like 30 machines, and 6-10 volunteers. It takes about 2 minutes to vote, at least if you vote straight party, and I suspect most people do. Even on Election Day, it’s not a big deal. I remember my ex-boyfriend diddled until he had to vote on Election Day in 2004, and he went at the highest traffic time and waited 5 minutes. I live in a part of the city that’s remarkably dense for this part of the country and thus there’s absolutely no excuse for long lines in other cities in the South and Midwest that are almost surely less dense than we are in these parts of Austin.
It’s easy to see why there’s no hassle in Texas to vote—because there’s too few elections that are close enough to bother going to the effort to make it hard for people to vote. The state is firmly red. Small pockets are firmly blue. The geography of the state means that discouraging voting wouldn’t make a difference, most likely. However, the geography of the state encourages ridiculous redistricting schemes, but that’s the topic of another post.