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Polling place inside Hazelwood Elementary/Middle School on primary day in Baltimore on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A recent study has found that polling precincts in Maryland with higher percentages of minority voters had longer wait times during the 2012 presidential election, and that poor resource allocation was to blame.

The study, “Election Day Long Lines: Resource Allocation,” which was produced by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, considered the relationship between resource allocation, race, and wait times at polling places during the 2012 presidential election in three states: Florida, Maryland and South Carolina. The resources being considered were the number of voting machines, and the number of poll workers.

In Maryland, of the 1,359 polling precincts studied, only 152 (about 11 percent) were in conformity with a state law requiring that polling places have one voting machine for every 200 registered voters.

The study also found that precincts with higher percentages of Black or Latino voters tended to have fewer machines per voter compared to precincts with higher percentages of White voters. The disparity was more pronounced in areas with higher percentages of Latino voters than those with higher percentages of Black voters. However, in Baltimore County, one of two counties in the state most affected by longer wait times at the polls in 2012, “only precincts with a higher percentage of Black voting age citizens tended to have longer delays than precincts with a higher percentage of White voting age citizens,” according to the report.

The link between race, resource allocation and wait times was similarly present in South Carolina and Florida.

The report recommends that states do more to ensure that all polling sites have sufficient numbers of machines and poll workers—two factors affecting wait times—and that particular attention be paid to precincts with higher percentage of minority voters, which tend to have fewer resources allocated to them.


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