Voting Rights Watch: Are states ready for the high voter turnout?

Even as thousands of people set records in early voting this week, the Congressional Quarterly reports that election officials around the country are still bracing for huge voter turnout and the big spike in early voting may not be enough to prevent long lines at the polls come November 4.

In several swing states, voter registration numbers have surged, and particular counties and cities have experienced increases that could overwhelm election officials. CQ reports that among battleground states with the biggest gains in voter registration are Nevada, up 30 percent, Virginia, up 11 percent and North Carolina, up 9 percent. According to the CQ:
Overall, 13 battleground states have already received 3.4 million new registrations as of Oct. 14, compared to 1.8 million new registrations in 2004, according to Laura Quinn, chief executive of Catalist, which tracks voter registration for progressive organizations.
The high level of interest in the election leaves local officials scrambling for unprecedented voter turnout. In Virginia, for example, the Secretary of State's office is projecting 90 percent voter turnout statewide, compared to 71 percent in 2004. Nationally, Mary Wilson, president of the League of Women Voters, says many election officials are bracing for 80 to 85 percent turnout. Of particular concern is that a flood of first-time voters navigating the polling place for the first time could make lines move even slower.