USA Today reports that polling places in six battleground states, including many with large minority populations, could be overwhelmed on Nov. 4. That's according to a new study released by The Advancement Project, a civil rights group based in Washington, D.C. The group found that precincts with large minority populations in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Florida and Michigan need more machines, voting stations and poll workers. Without more resources, thousands of voters could be faced with long waits, give up and go home.
According to USA Today:
Most state and local election officials try to take registration trends into account as well as past turnout, says Doug Lewis, executive director of the Election Center, which represents those officials. But most machines are purchased far in advance, and only the wealthiest counties can afford to buy or rent more.
The Advancement Project cites Virginia as the potential worst-case scenario. It says, for example, Richmond precincts with large minority populations have 20% more voters per machine than precincts with fewer minorities, and 26% in Alexandria. It has written to Virginia's chief elections officer requesting changes before Election Day.
Allegations of racial disparities were made in this year's primaries and in the 2004 fall election:
• In Virginia's Chesterfield County in February, nine precincts ran short of Democratic ballots, causing long lines. Nearly 300 voters were given scrap paper to cast their ballots, but the state refused to count them.