According to a new report, young voters, particularly those of color, are inconvenienced at voting polls.
The report, led by Advancement Project, a multiracial civil rights organization, and OurTime.org, a nonprofit that seeks to bring out the political voice of young Americans, concluded that voting polices that have been enacted and/or proposed in certain states, including sweeping voter-ID laws and cuts to early voting periods, have a disparate impact on voters of color, leaving them to deal with longer voting lines and other inconveniences.
Titled "The Time Tax: America’s Newest Form of Voter Suppression for Millennials, and How it Must Be Eliminated to Make Voting Accessible for the Next Generation" (pdf), the report showed that in elections of 2012, African-American and Latino voters waited in line an average of 20 minutes, while white voters only waited approximately 13 minutes.
The report also pointed to poll-closing times in certain states such as Florida and Virginia, areas with higher percentages of young voters at polling locations that closed earlier.
These issues all create what is known as the "time tax," which is a policy or practice that causes one citizen to "pay" more in time to vote.
"Young voters turned out in 2012 in spite of numerous barriers to the ballot, not because the system worked efficiently," said Matthew Segal, president and co-founder of OurTime.org. "From long lines and photo-ID restrictions, to emerging issues like challenging the residency of student voters and the need to update our antiquated registration process, young people, and especially young people of color, are disparately impacted. As we look toward the midterm elections of 2014, we must, and we can, fix this."
With Americans ages 18-29 being more racially diverse than the rest of the population, the diversity in the voting landscape will change as well, causing young voters and voters of color to be key constituents for candidates. This phenomenon was clearly evidenced by Barack Obama’s 2008 win, which many credit to his ability to push the youth vote.
In order to curb these disparities, the report suggested having "inclusive and effective" online voter registration, the elimination of strict ID requirements and mandatory early voting periods, among others.
"The ballot box is the one place where we are all supposed to be equal, whether young or old, rich or poor, and no matter one’s race," said Katherine Culliton-González, director of Advancement Project’s Voter Protection Program. "These fundamental American values are broken, and we need to fix it now for the generations to come. We’ve submitted our report’s recommendations to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, calling on them to making it easier, not harder, for young voters to participate in our democracy."
Read the full study here.