Limited Voting Problems in 2008, but Racial Disparities Remain

A new survey has found that voters had generally positive experiences voting in the 2008 presidential election. Unfortunately, like so many things in the United States, those feelings were less likely if you were not white. People of color reported longer lines and being asked for ID more often than white voters.

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Earlier this month, MediaMouse.org reported that voting problems were not nearly as widespread as they were in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Now a new survey conducted by the Pew Center on the States, AARP, and MIT has confirmed this.

The survey found that overall voting in the 2008 presidential election went smoothly. 91% of those surveyed said that it was easy to find their polling place, 83% said their polling place was well run, and 75% said that they were “very confident” that their vote was counted.

However, despite the generally favorable assessment, there were concerns and problems, particularly along racial lines:

* On Election Day, African American voters waited more than twice as long to vote (29 minutes) than all other voters, who reported an average wait time of 13 minutes to vote. Early voters said they had to wait an average of 20 minutes to vote, but African Americans again reported an average wait time more than twice as long–43 minutes;

* Latinos said they were asked to show ID more often than whites or African Americans in states that require ID;

* More than half of the states require no ID to vote, yet 12 percent of voters in these states not requiring ID said they were asked to present an ID. Meanwhile, in states that require a photo ID, 20 percent of voters said they were never asked for one.

Beyond racial disparities, confidence in the voting process was also lower among early voters. Only 61% of absentee voters believed that their ballot would be accurately counted.

The survey was unveiled at a conference where Secretaries of State, election officials, and election experts were gathered to discuss electoral reform.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org