Mr. Rogers and other voters in Texas and California who stood in hours-long lines before casting their ballots this week are admirable citizens who recognize the importance indeed the precious value of voting. But the fact they had to endure such obstacles in exercising this basic right is unconscionable. Their experience should serve as a wake-up call to election officials across the country to properly prepare for the November elections.
It is clear that officials in the two largest states voting in Tuesdays primary were not ready to handle the large turnout of voters. In Texas, a cascade of issues resulted in delay and confusion, including a long ballot, introduction of a new polling system and the closing of hundreds of precincts after the Supreme Courts 2013 decision to remove voting rights protections for minority voters.
At Texas Southern University, the historically black college with 10,000 enrolled students where Mr. Rogers had to wait, there were only six poll workers and 10 voting machines. Only five were allocated to Democratic voters, and some of the aging machines broke down for part of the night. Exhausted voters, The Posts Elise Viebeck reported, resorted to sitting on the ground as the lines stalled. In California, many voters, particularly in Los Angeles, encountered long waits because of the glitches that accompanied the first major deployment of a new $300 million voting system. One voter likened the situation to the infamous traffic gridlock on Californias 405 freeway.
If this years primaries to date are any measure, there will be massive, perhaps record, turnout in November when control of Congress and the White House will be decided. It is unacceptable for voting to be such an ordeal that it discourages or prevents people from casting a ballot. That is particularly true when minority populations are disproportionately affected, as was the case in Texas, where the polling places that were closed served many black and Latino voters.
Tuesdays events in California and Texas underscore the need for more and smarter election preparation. There is still time to learn from these lessons, said Myrna Pérez, director of voting rights and election program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Election administrators, she said, should prepare by imagining what can go wrong, designing backup plans and having adequate resources. Put another way: They should treat voting with the kind of seriousness and commitment that was exhibited by Mr. Rogers.
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