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The Five Most Outrageous Facts About Our Broken Voting System

New study reveals voting rights are in even worse trouble than you thought

Voters wait in line to their cast ballots in New York City.
Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images
April 9, 2013 9:00 AM ET

So you think the American electoral system is broken? New research out of MIT lays bare just how bad it really is. Here are the five most outrageous facts from "Waiting to Vote," a forthcoming paper by Charles Stewart III for the Journal of Law and Politics, on long lines in the 2012 election.

1. African-American voters wait in line nearly twice as long as white voters.

"Viewed nationally, African-Americans waited an average of 23 minutes to vote, compared to 12 minutes for whites."

2. Hispanic voters wait in line one-and-a-half times as long as white voters.

"Hispanics waited 19 minutes" – again, compared to a 12-minute wait for whites.

3. True-blue Democrats wait in line 45 percent longer than red-bleeding Republicans.

"Strong Democrats waited an average of 16 minutes, compared to an average of 11 minutes for strong Republicans."

4. Voting in Florida remains a shitshow – even compared to other big states.

"Waiting times varied tremendously across the states in 2012, ranging from less than two minutes in Vermont to 39 minutes in Florida. . . . On the whole, states with the smallest populations had the lowest waits. . . . However, it should be noted that California had among the shortest wait times in the country, at an average of 7 minutes."

5. The federal Election Assistance Commission is on its last legs. It is supposed to have four commissioners. It currently has four vacancies.

"It is for answering questions such as this – how to shorten lines in urban areas and a few states where they exist statewide – that the Election Assistance Commission was created. Unfortunately, the EAC has become a 'zombie commission,' without commissioners and therefore without a clear agenda . . ."

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