Thanking voters on election night, President Obama noted that some had stood in long lines, then added: “By the way, we have to fix that.” Yes we do. It’s an outrage when citizens are forced to wait in line for hours to cast their ballot. Regardless of whether one sees voting as a duty or a privilege, it shouldn’t consume a significant part of one’s day. That discourages participation, particularly if would-be voters are hard-pressed for time because of family or work obligations.
No one expects voting to be instantaneous, certainly. But at the most, it shouldn’t take more than half an hour to cast a ballot. Indeed, limiting voting waits to 30 minutes should be a consensus national goal. That means addressing issues such as whether there are enough polling places, whether those sites are adequately staffed, and whether they have enough voting equipment to keep the lines moving in a reasonably expeditious fashion.