Minority, low-income districts saw longer wait times to vote in 2018: study

Districts with higher minority populations and lower incomes saw longer wait times to vote in the 2018 midterm elections, according to a study released Monday.

The study from the Bipartisan Policy Center and MIT analyzed data from polling places across the country and found the percentage of voters who waited 30 minutes or longer in line doubled to 6 percent since the last midterm election in 2014. 

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The study indicated that districts with 90 percent or more non-white voters had an increased average wait time of 32.4 minutes, compared to precincts with 10 percent or less non-white voters, which saw an average wait time of 5.1 minutes.

Fulton County in Georgia, which includes Atlanta, held the top spot for the longest wait times, followed by districts in South Carolina, Nevada and Washington, D.C. 

Charles Stewart, one of the authors and a political science professor at MIT, suggested to The Washington Post that these communities with higher minority populations may not have the resources to fight long lines.

“The affluent neighborhood — if they are experiencing long lines, it might very well be that the county commissioner lives in the neighborhood and knows what buttons to push, and the people who live in that neighborhood have experience asking for things and getting them,” Stewart said. “Minorities might think, ‘When we ask, we don’t get things.’ Or maybe, ‘We don’t have time to press our case.’”

Longer wait times also corresponded to districts that had more renters than homeowners. 

The authors told The Post they hope the study will help precincts to reorganize resources to combat long lines for the 2020 election as much as they can.

The study looked at 3,119 polling places across 11 states where 18 million voters are registered. This amounts to about less than 3 percent of polling locations across the country, according to the Post.