The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Adam Fogel, Right to Vote Director W - (301) 270-4616 / C - (216) 288-7610

New Study: Large Counties in Swing States May Face Election Day Problems

Lack of Preparation, Uniformity Could Cause Long Lines on Election Day


Voters in the largest counties in 10 key swing states may experience
problems on Election Day because of insufficient preparation and
inadequate poll booth and machine allocation plans, according to a
report released today by FairVote, a nonpartisan advocacy group.

FairVote surveyed 26 election administrators in counties with over
500,000 residents in Colorado, Florida, Missouri, New Mexico, Michigan,
Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Researchers
found that many counties do not have a standardized method for
allocating poll booths, which may cause long lines on Election Day.
Long lines are often caused by an inadequate number of poll booths and
have plagued voters, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods, in the
past several election cycles. The report shows that 10 of the counties
surveyed were not preparing a written allocation plan before Election

Though some officials explained how they would allocate resources,
including using metrics such as the number of registered voters and
previous turnout, not a single administrator surveyed could cite a
specific scientific formula that they use for calculating the number of
booths or machines needed.

Students in many large counties in swing states may experience
difficulty voting this Election Day. Of the 26 counties surveyed, 24
have post-secondary institutions in them. Only 15 of those counties
reported that they plan to have a polling location on campus. Students
in these jurisdictions may have trouble voting because of inadequate
access, which has been problematic in previous election cycles.

"Many of the largest counties in key states are not prepared for
Election Day," said co-author of the report, FairVote's Adam Fogel.
"The across the board lack of uniformity we see in this report speaks
to the patchwork election system we have in this country. Most local
officials do the best they can with the limited resources they have
available, but state and federal officials must do more to ensure
transparent election administration and increased accountability after
Election Day."

FairVote is a non-partisan electoral reform organization founded on a
belief that democracy depends on respect for every voice and every
vote. Part of FairVote's Democracy SoS project, Uniformity in Election
Administration: A 2008 Survey of Swing State County Clerks-National
Edition is part of a report series designed to shed light on practices
of county election administrators, as well as their interpretation and
compliance with state law. The National Edition follows state reports
on election preparedness in Missouri, New Mexico, Colorado and Virginia.

Full Report Series:

FairVote acts to transform our elections to achieve universal access to participation, a full spectrum of meaningful ballot choices and majority rule with fair representation for all. As a catalyst for change, we build support for innovative strategies to win a constitutionally protected right to vote, universal voter registration, a national popular vote for president, instant runoff voting and proportional representation.