Voters of Color Faced Longest Wait Times in Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2013

CONTACT: Cynthia Gordy, cgordy@advancementproject.org, 718-755-4340

 

VOTERS OF COLOR FACED LONGEST WAIT TIMES IN FLORIDA, SHOWS GROUNDBREAKING NEW RESEARCH FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION COMMISSION

As President Obama’s Commission Heads to Florida, Advancement Project Submits Expert Testimony and Study on the Impact of Long Lines in the State

 

(Washington) – The Presidential Commission on Election Administration will hold its first hearing this week in Miami, Florida. Tasked with making voting improvements after lengthy wait times in the 2012 election, the commission is getting started in a state that saw some of the longest lines in the country, with some voters waiting for up to nine hours. Advancement Project, which has worked in Florida on voter protection issues since 2000, will provide expert testimony at the hearing on Friday, June 28. The national civil rights organization also submitted groundbreaking new research on Florida’s notoriously long lines and policy recommendations for the Commission.

In the new study sponsored by Advancement Project, and conducted by election administration experts Daniel Smith and Michael Herron, data clearly shows that African-American and Latino voters across the state of Florida faced longer wait times than their White counterparts. The only known study on long voting lines based on actual election administration data, rather than polling, the report includes data from 5,196 of the roughly 6,100 precincts (85 percent) that were in use in Florida for the 2012 General Election. Among their findings:

  • On Election Day across the state, the greatest Time Tax was paid by Latino voters, but generally speaking, Black voters also waited slightly longer than White voters. This may be in part because Black voters used early voting more than the other racial groups.
  • In Miami- Dade, an average of 73 minutes elapsed before the final voter in line cast a ballot after the 7:00 pm close of polls, with at least one precinct processing its last voter seven hours after the polling station was closed.
  • Precincts in Broward County, which has a higher White population than other large counties, reported closing on average just 25 minutes after 7:00 pm.
  • The breadth of their research also demonstrates that racial disparities in wait times are not caused by being in dense, urban areas, or due to the length of the ballot, as some have opined, as racial disparities were found throughout the state and within counties with the exact same ballot.

“Despite all the factors that contribute to long lines, it is clear that Floridians had less access to the ballot box in 2012 because there were six fewer days of early voting,” said Katherine Culliton-González, Director of Voter Protection for Advancement Project. “Based on our review of our experts’ report, as well as interviews with Supervisors of Elections and community groups, the disparate impact of long lines on voters of color is likely related to the cuts in early voting enacted by the Florida legislature in 2011, as well as other factors, such as the failure to provide any formula for polling place resources. As early voting has only been partially restored, and Florida has yet to provide a formula for polling place resources, these issues remain unresolved after the legislative session.” 

Herron and Smith’s study also found that voters of color were more likely than White voters to cast provisional ballots, and nearly twice as likely to have their provisional ballots rejected. To address these recurring election problems, among other recommendations, Advancement Project urged the Commission to require a mandatory 14 days of early voting, including two full weekends; increase polling place resources by implementing a formula based on anticipated turnout; require all counties to use electronic poll books to allow voters who moved to update their address at the polling location; and train county election officials in strategic outreach with voters of color.

Advancement Project’s testimony can be viewed here.

Advancement Project’s report on Florida precincts can be viewed here

 

###