A new statewide study from political scientists at Dartmouth and the University of Florida finds that Hispanic voters waited longer at the polls last November than any other ethnic group, with black voters also experiencing longer delays than white voters.
The study, by Michael Herron of Dartmouth and Daniel Smith of UF, will be submitted Friday in Miami to a bipartisan election reform commission created by President Barack Obama. The Presidential Commission on Election Administration has been tasked with identifying successful elections procedures and making recommendations for improvement to the president. It will not submit proposals to Congress, though some lawmakers, including Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, have said they would welcome them.This is no surprise to those of us who work the Florida elections. We had to have extra support staff in minority precincts just to deal with the overflow which was due to lack of adequate number voting machines, an unusually long ballot, fewer early-voting days and ill-prepared precincts. Some Miami voters waited between five and eight hours to cast ballots last November.
The meeting comes three days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision in the 1965 Voting Rights Act that sought to protect voters, including those in five Florida counties, against racially discriminatory elections laws. A new formula is needed to determine which places might still place some voters at a disadvantage, the court said in its ruling.
"If we need a new criteria, one of the things we could look at is wait times, and whether or not certain racial groups are having longer lines," said Smith, who along with Herron conducted the study for Advancement Project, a left-leaning civil-rights advocacy organization scheduled to testify before the commission Friday.
The extra long ballot and fewer early-voting days were part of GOP voting obstruction passed by Florida republican house and signed by Gov. Scott..