WASHINGTON — As polling places prepare for the highly-anticipated midterm elections, Virginia voters should be ready to deal with relatively long lines, according to researchers with the Bipartisan Policy Center.
A report released Friday shows that 10 percent of polling places in Virginia had voters waiting in line for more than 30 minutes in 2016.
That was above the national average of 8 percent.
“This was trying to determine where polling places are having problems and why they are having problems,” said Matthew Weil, an associated director with the Bipartisan Policy Center. “It is the first systematic look at polling places across the country.”
The report looked at 17 Virginia jurisdictions including Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Fauquier counties.
Although the state has some work to do, Weil said it is on the right track.
“They’ve certainly focused on it,” he said. “They’ve expanded some of their reasons for voting absentee and they’ve changed some of their technology and that has led to some shorter lines.”
Nationally, researchers examined 88 jurisdictions across 11 states.
They found that the vast majority of polling places — 92 percent — had voters waiting in line for 30 minutes or less to cast a ballot.
Among the 8 percent of where wait times exceeded 30 minutes, 4 percent had voters waiting for more than 1 hour, the report found.
“Precincts with large numbers of registered voters often have too few check-in stations or voting booths to handle the volume of voters assigned to the precinct, even under the best of circumstances,” according to the report.
Additionally, researchers said problems arose in densely-populated urban areas.
“Polling places in urban areas often face design challenges — small, inconvenient spaces — that undermine many election officials’ best efforts to provide adequate resources to these locations,” the report stated.
As for what time of day was worst, researchers said that the “greatest crush of voters tended to arrive in the morning and create long lines at the start of the day.”