Changing Electorate

(FILE – This Nov. 6, 2012 file photo shows voters lined up in the dark to beat the 7:00 p.m. deadline to cast their ballots at a polling station in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File))

Study: Florida Hispanic voters waited in longest lines during November election

If lines at the Florida polls felt especially long this year, it wasn’t just your imagination. A new study by the Advancement Project has found Hispanic voters waited longer in line at Florida polls last November than any other ethnic group.

The study found that precincts with a larger number of Hispanic voters averaged closing much later on November 6 than precincts with mostly white voters. African-Americans also had longer wait times than whites, but typically shorter waits than Hispanics.

Data covered 5,194 of the 6,100 precincts in the state of Florida during the 2012 General Election. The study found that some Miami voters waited between five and eight hours to cast ballots. A county review suggested that factors such as a long ballot, fewer early-voting days and a lack of preparation contributed to these long waits. However, lines were not the same length across counties, according to the Advancement Project study.

In Maimi-Dade, after the 7p.m. closing time at the polls, an average of 73 minutes elapsed before the final voter was able to cast a ballot. At least one precinct processed its last voter seven hours after the polling station was closed.

Researchers published these findings just three days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision in the the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which set to protect voters against racially discriminatory election laws. Voters in five Florida counties were protected by this provision.

The study called “Congestion at the Polls: A Study of Florida Precincts in the 2012 General Election,” was conducted by Dartmouth College Professor of Government Michael C. Herron and University of Florida Political Science Professor Daniel A. Smith. They submitted the report to a bipartisan election reform commission created by President Obama.

Created by the President in May, the 10-member commission will meet at the University of Miami in Florida for a day-long session where they’ll hear from elections supervisors and the public about ways the government can improve wait-time at the polls for future elections.

Other highlights from the study showed that Hispanic and Black voters were more likely than white voters to cast provisional ballots and nearly twice as likely to have those provisional ballots rejected. And young voters under the age of 30 also endured longer lines at the polls than older voters, including those over 65.

The Advancement Project is scheduled to testify in front of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration today in Miami.

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