In 2012, hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. waited, at first patiently and then with growing frustration, in lines that ventured out the doors and wrapped around street corners. They weren’t waiting more than seven hours in line to buy the new iPhone — they were waiting to vote on an electronic touch-screen machine.
Technology has made life easier, simplifying common tasks such as banking, publishing a book, talking to friends and paying for things online. But when it comes to voting, technology is stuck in 2002. And with the decade-old electronic voting machines that states use falling apart — creating long lines that cause some not vote at all — voters are slowly losing access to their voting rights.
There’s been renewed emphasis on voting rights in the last year, since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act. The Court ruled that voter discrimination wasn’t rampant enough to support a law restricting Southern states from implementing new voting policies. Since then, states, particularly Republican-run states, have been fighting for voting restrictions like reduced early voting times and voter ID laws, laws that previously would have been blocked by the federal government.
Civil rights advocates contend that such laws, especially those requiring all voters to present government identification, could potentially disenfranchise the poor and people of color and reduce voter turnout.