VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - One of the big stories to come out of Decision 2012 involves problems at the polls including very long wait times to cast your ballot. One political analyst suggests voter suppression may be to blame for the massive lines.
"I'm willing to cast my vote and wait as long as I need to wait," said Apryll Underwood while waiting in line to vote at Green Run High School Tuesday night.
Knowing that wait would be long, Apryll brought her own chair.
"The evidence seems to be that there was an effort, intentional or not, there was an effort to keep people from voting," said political analyst Vivian Paige.
Paige is not happy many precincts with such hefty wait times were largely African American.
"People were going into Lamberts Point for example and waiting two and a half hours, and going to the Norfolk Zoo and waiting five minutes. Those two precincts, just as an example, those two precincts, one at Lamberts Point is a majority black precinct and the zoo is not," said Paige.
State Election Board spokesperson, Nikki Sheraton, tells WAVY.com there is no indication voting problems across the state had anything to do with race. In fact, she says, long lines were reported in rural and urban precincts across the commonwealth.
Sheraton does, however, believe the wordy constitutional amendment on eminent domain had something to do with the hold up. Paige is not convinced.
"If it happens everywhere, then you can't complain it's about race. If it only happens in black precincts, or minority precincts, then you have to say, this has to be a reason."
Lack of electronic poll books at precincts also caused voters to say registrars were unprepared. Sheraton again said that is not a race issue. She said precincts followed Virginia law which states:
§ 24.2-627. Mechanical and electronic voting or counting devices; number required.
A. The governing body of any county or city which adopts for use at elections mechanical or direct electronic voting systems shall provide for each precinct at least the following number of voting devices:
- In each precinct having not more than 750 registered voters, 1;
- In each precinct having more than 750 but not more than 1,500 registered voters, 2;
- In each precinct having more than 1,500 but not more than 2,250 registered voters, 3;
- In each precinct having more than 2,250 but not more than 3,000 registered voters, 4;
- In each precinct having more than 3,000 but not more than 3,750 registered voters, 5;
- In each precinct having more than 3,750 but not more than 4,500 registered voters, 6;
- In each precinct having more than 4,500 but not more than 5,000 registered voters, 7.
B. The governing body of any county or city, which adopts for use at elections any electronic system which requires the voter to vote a ballot which is inserted in an electronic counter, shall provide for each precinct at least one voting booth with a marking device for each 425 registered voters or portion thereof and shall provide for each precinct at least one counting device.
C. The local electoral board of any county or city shall be authorized to conduct any May general election, primary election, or special election held on a date other than a November general election with the number of voting or marking devices it determines is appropriate for each precinct, notwithstanding the provisions of subsections A and B of this section.
D. For purposes of applying this section, an electoral board may exclude persons voting absentee in its calculations, and if it does so, the electoral board shall send to the State Board a statement of the number of voting systems to be used in each precinct. If the State Board finds that the number of voting systems is not sufficient, it may direct the local board to use more voting systems.
So, how would Paige stop what she considers a problem?
"What you do is what they've done in other countries. They actually have taken it away from the localities and the states and they have a national way of doing things."
Meaning a national, rather than local, board would consider what IDs are acceptable for the entire country. Also, polling times would be the same across the nation and early voting would either happen or not for all Americans.
"We wouldn't have all of this stuff happening with this patchwork of laws that we have from state to state if we had that," said Paige.
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