As I walked to my local polling place in Northeast Washington, D.C., this morning, the air was crisp and my stomach was rumbling, as I skipped breakfast to get in line before the polls opened at 7 a.m. I was in line at 6:30 and on the way to my office an hour later, making it to my desk near Union Station just before 8 a.m.
I had no idea I was engaging in an inherently discriminatory process, but apparently I was, according to some political scientists who say that standing in line in an urban polling place was somehow easier for me because of the color of my skin.
In an Election Day story, “Why Long Voting Lines Today Could Have Long-Term Consequences,” The New York Times’ Emily Badger says that some racial demographics are more likely to face long lines than others, and that they face higher barriers to the polls:
Early voters, urban voters and minority voters are all more likely to wait and wait and wait. In predominantly minority communities, the lines are about twice as long as in predominantly white ones, [Harvard Ph.D. candidate Stephen] Pettigrew has found. And minority voters are six times as likely as whites to wait longer than an hour to vote. Those disparities persist even within the same town or county, suggesting they don’t reflect simply the greater difficulty of putting on elections in populous cities.
“That means members of minority communities are forgoing wages; they’re having to juggle child and family care and all sorts of other things that white voters don’t have to do,” said Charles Stewart III, an M.I.T. political scientist. (In a presidential election, he has estimated, all this waiting nationwide adds up to about a billion dollars in lost wages.)
Pettigrew explains, “It does give some indication of the health of our democracy that you have all these people who are excited enough to vote that they’ll wait in a long line. But it’s also an indication, at least in some areas, that there is a problem.”
So, Stewart claims, the reason that long voter lines are inherently discriminatory because minority voters face the unique challenge of having jobs and families, which apparently are challenges that white voters don’t face.
This is absolutely incomprehensible. How in the world are white people immune from the challenges that come with taking the time to stand in line and take part in representative government while balancing the ever-present responsibilities of work and family? At what point does the amount of melanin in someone’s skin make it easier to balance those things or determine whether or not your office has a voter leave policy?
Perhaps voters are waiting in longer lines because of a particular anxiety with this election, which has driven record voter turnout since the primaries. The number of attempts to drive the “voter suppression” narrative have hit a new high this election cycle with the publication of this piece by The New York Times, and they’ve definitely hit a new low with this theory and allegation.
- 4 ways to survive this election
- What a Trump win would mean
- Long election day lines? Unhinged liberals say that’s just a GOP voter suppression tactic!
Nate Madden is a Staff Writer for Conservative Review, focusing on religious freedom, jihadism, and the judiciary. He previously served as the Director of Policy Relations for the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. A Publius Fellow, John Jay Fellow, Citadel Parliamentary Fellow and National Journalism Center alumnus, Nate’s writing has previously appeared in several religious and news publications. Follow him @NateMadden_IV.