Absent VRA Protections, Voters Report Long Lines, Intimidation in Critical Swing States
In the first presidential election since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, voters in many crucial swing states are encountering fewer polling places, longer lines, and in some cases even reporting intimidation.
“There is tremendous disruption at the polls today,” Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, told USA Today on Tuesday. “This election may be the most chaotic election … in the last 50 years.”
“If you can’t afford to stand in a long line, if you can’t afford daycare, that’s basically a poll tax. It’s just not fair.”
Maricopa County, Arizona
“Long lines caused by polling cutbacks are a form of voter suppression,” the NAACP warned its supporters, urging them to document and report instances of hours-long lines to vote.
Voters in Arizona, some of whom suffered through the state’s chaotic Democratic primary, are already requesting that the state extend voting hours after encountering hours-long lines at polling stations.
“This is an election cycle that’s just been marked by evidence of the resurgence of voting discrimination.”
Lawyers’ Committee for
Civil Rights Under Law
Intimidation at the polls has also been reported in several states. USA Today wrote:
The Washington Post said that multiple reports of intimidation have emerged from the swing state of Florida:
“[G]o to the polls, stand at the polls, stay at the polls, vote at the polls. Do not let anything turn you around. Remember our history and remember what our people did to get us the right to the polls.”
—Rev. Dr. William J. Barber
Moreover, in North Carolina—where voting restrictions were found in July to have targeted Democratic African-American voters “with almost surgical precision”—the state GOP appeared to brag in a Sunday memo about reduced early voting among black voters compared with 2012.
On Tuesday, there were problems reported across the key swing state, including machine malfunctions that forced the Durham County Board of Elections to vote unanimously to extend voting in the county by 90 minutes.
In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, North Carolina NAACP president Rev. Dr. William J. Barber urged citizens to “go to the polls, stand at the polls, stay at the polls, vote at the polls. Do not let anything turn you around. Remember our history and remember what our people did to get us the right to the polls.”
Other states have seen poll workers illegally asking voters their party preference, poll stations with paper ballots and no pens, and voters being turned away for lack of a voter ID.
“This is an election cycle that’s just been marked by evidence of the resurgence of voting discrimination,” Clarke told USA Today. “This is a moment when we’re seeing first-hand the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling which gutted the Voting Rights Act. And what looms over all of this is the fact that we don’t have the Justice Department’s federal observers on the ground in the same way that we had in prior presidential election cycles.”
Indeed, because of the 2013 ruling, fewer Department of Justice election observers are being stationed at polling places, as Common Dreams reported.
Throughout the day, rights activists have praised voters who have endured long lines in order to cast a vote:
They’ve also urged voters nationwide to continue to report any irregularities, intimidation, and unusually long lines.
Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.