You'd think after two hundred years (including some awkward Constitution-patching, here and there) we would finally have this "voting" thing down. Nope
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis determined that blacks and Hispanics waited nearly twice as long in line to vote on average than whites. Florida had the nation’s longest lines, at 45 minutes, followed by the District of Columbia, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia, according to Charles Stewart III, the political science professor who conducted the analysis.
So, is that a problem? Obama, to his credit, has actually opined that it is, and opined further that we need to do something about it. Republicans, however, don't want to be all hasty about these things. Let's not (literally) make a federal case about this, right?
[G]etting anything passed without Republican support will be impossible, Democrats acknowledge. And so far, conservatives have complained that Democrats are politicizing an issue that should be handled by the states, not the federal government.
“It’s ridiculous to stand in line a couple of hours to vote,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “But I think it’s also ridiculous to make a political issue out of it when it’s very easily handled.”
Well, here's the problem with that. Let's go below the fold for this one:
The governments of the states in question (and other states with strong rural-urban voting disparities, like effing Ohio, the Florida of the midwest) don't necessarily think it's a problem if certain people have to wait a long, long time to vote and others don't. It may be "very easily handled", as Grassley says, but that only further highlights how very, very invested certain groups are in conspicuously not fixing it. In states like Virginia, in fact, they're still trying their level best to make sure certain people don't have to wait in long lines to vote by making sure certain people aren't allowed to vote at all. Newly passed legislation would:
eliminate the use of a utility bill, pay stub, bank statement, government check and Social Security card as acceptable identification that can be presented at the polls. Voters would still be able to use a voter identification card, concealed handgun permit, driver's license and student ID card.
Well, so long as you're still taking concealed handgun permits.
Since most of those now-banned documents are still perfectly acceptable for obtaining "real" ID's, like drivers licenses, the possibilities for thwarting rampant voting fraud are approximately nil. The only substantive outcome is to make it ever more inconvenient for certain people (i.e. poor, elderly, and those that don't have cars, those city-living bastards) to vote. If that doesn't work to discourage certain people, Virginia has created newly gerrymandered districts; if even that doesn't stop people from unauthorized vote-having, Virginia has contemplated a plan to give more electoral sway to rural areas just because they deserve it. The only thing left is for the state to take out billboard space demanding that minority voters not vote at all, and at this rate we'll be getting there sooner rather than later.
So yes, it would appear that federal action is required in order to solve a problem as apparently simple as states incompetently allocating voting machines. I don't think it'll require sending in the National Guard or anything, but it may require the federal government taking a good, long look at whether certain states are screwing their minority populations accidentally, or deliberately.