In response to my post last night about voting lines, I had a number of people write in saying they’ve never waited more than a few minutes to vote – often people in their 50s or 60s and older, so people who’ve voted in a lot of elections. And most of those people asked, how does that even happen? What’s the root cause? Obviously in any given election, in any given precinct, you can have a random malfunction or screw up that leads to long lines. In theory, that can happen anywhere. But the cause of long lines in the vast majority of cases is really, really simple. Depending on where you vote, the number of voting machines and precinct workers per eligible voter can vary wildly. If one polling station has one polling machine per x eligible voters and another has one per 50x eligible voters, the outcome is pretty obvious. And there are numerous studies showing that precincts with a lot of poor and/or non-whites have on average many fewer voting machines, poll workers, etc. Some of this is by design; some of it is a recapitulation of the same structural dynamics that leave underprivileged communities under-resourced across the board. Same difference.