Note that the 49,000 number seems to be an upper bound.
Like Jordan, as many as 49,000 people across Central Florida were discouraged from voting because of long lines on Election Day, according to a researcher at Ohio State University who analyzed election data compiled by the Orlando Sentinel.
About 30,000 of those discouraged voters — most of them in Orange and Osceola counties — likely would have backed Democratic President Barack Obama, according to Theodore Allen, an associate professor of industrial engineering at OSU.
About 19,000 voters would have likely backed Republican Mitt Romney, Allen said.
This suggests that Obama’s margin over Romney in Florida could have been roughly 11,000 votes higher than it was, based just on Central Florida results. Obama carried the state by 74,309 votes out of more than 8.4 million cast. [...]
Democratic activists such as Orlando’s David Rucker said he saw a fierce devotion among voters to weather long lines to counter efforts by Republicans to limit early voting.
“They had to stay in those lines,” Rucker said.
But many Central Florida voters faced unyielding work schedules, child-care issues or other demands. They could not wait out lines that sometimes stretched around blocks.
So does this matter? That all depends on if you think there’s a chance that an election in Florida could come down to a margin of 11,000 voters or less.
Another article speculates about what made the areas with the worst lines different. One major cause seems to be Florida’s overly difficult process for casting provisional ballots when someone has moved. Each provisional ballot, in that circumstance, apparently requires its own phone call to the supervisor of elections, slowing lines to a crawl. Of course, lower-income voters and college students – both of whom trend Democratic – are more likely to have moved recently. It’s not plausible that the Republicans who rewrote the provisional ballot regulations in 2011 were unaware of the partisan benefit of their new law.
There are a lot of reforms that can make the lines move faster – but we all know that the GOP will do everything it can to block those reforms, because they want to win the next election that’s decided by less than 11,000 votes.
For that reason, the most important reform would be to move the detailed rule-making out of the hands of politicians and into the hands of an appointed expert committee (perhaps made of retired judges appointed by both parties). The conflict of interest involved in having elected politicians set the rules is too large.
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