Record early voting led to shorter lines on Election Day for many counties across the South. In states with early voting like North Carolina, long lines were present at polling places in the early mornings, but soon crowds eased and many voters faced little or no wait. Across the country, almost 30 million Americans voted early; election officials said one of the reasons lines moved quickly in many states was due to this phenomenon.

As expected, states where early voting did not happen, such as Virginia, saw massively long lines, and many polling places were overwhelmed by high-voter turnout. Voters waited as long as seven hours in some precincts in Virginia and experienced lines a half-mile long.

Both North Carolina and Virginia saw a huge surge in voter registration this year (and both went blue), but early voting made a difference in the ease with which these large numbers of new voters were able to participate in this historic election. Indeed, voting rights advocates point out that now is the time to begin the movement toward a national early-voting law to prevent the sort of polling place meltdowns as we saw in Virginia yesterday.