What did this study confirm from past studies, and what assumptions did it call into question?
First, an important, earlier study found that electronic voting machines increased the time to vote in comparison with paper ballots. A hypothesis — there were others — was that voters were not familiar with the machines and found them difficult. Our study doesn’t find that. We think that voters have, over time, become familiar with the machines, so they no longer cause delays.
Second, the study confirms earlier ones: Voting takes longer, as I’ve stated, in majority-minority polling stations than in majority-white polling stations. This distressing disparity is a consistent feature of our election system.
What are the implications for the next election?
The debate over voter ID laws will rage on, and our study might add fuel to the fire.
Is the bigger issue here making one’s vote count or voter confidence?
Both. We want the votes to count, obviously, but we also want people to believe, correctly, that elections work. There’s ample evidence that long lines undercut voter confidence.
Gilbert is the Martha Lubin Karsh and Bruce A. Karsh Bicentennial Professor of Law. He teaches courses on election law, legislation, and law and economics.