How Long Does It Take To Vote? Wait Times On Election Day 2018 Could Be Lengthy
It's finally here. After months of rallies and texts and calls for voter registration, the 2018 Election Day is upon us. It's time to make your voice heard. So if you're wondering how long it might take to vote in the 2018 midterms, look no further.
One of the first ways to gauge the likelihood of a long line is to know whether your state has early voting, meaning a specified period before Election Day where you can cast your vote in person, or a certain type of vote-by-mail option like absentee voting. (You might have heard about absentee voting from one of your favorite celebrities.)
But back to serious business: There are 13 states with no early voting period, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Based on the large number of early voting in some states, this could signal long wait lines in states like New York, which only has absentee voting in place of an early voting period. In comparison, early voting has resulted in soaring number of votes cast in the Lone Star State. According to the Texas Tribune, early voting in this midterm election has surpassed the entire 2012 voting turnout in the 30 most populated counties in Texas.
The New York Board of Elections outlined the pretty specific reasons for being granted an absentee ballot. But Susan Lerner of Common Cause, a nonpartisan grassroots group, told Gothamist that New York could increase voter turnout by adopting policies like early voting. "One of the most foolproof ways to increase voter turnout is combo of early voting and same day registration," Lerner said, according to Gothamist. "If you're looking to suppress the vote, you're looking to restrict early voting and same day registration. Here in New York, we're already doing that."
Your state might have long lines — or maybe it has enough polling places so people are moving at a steady clip through the voting machines. How do you find out? MIT Election and Science Lab created a great tool called the Election Performance Index, which tracks each state's voting conditions. For example, the average voting wait time in California in 2016 was 6.6 minutes, while Florida's average wait time was 5.5 minutes. That time shoots up to 10.1 minutes in Tennessee, and even further in Georgia (where a string of voter suppression allegations have plagued the governor's race) where that average voting wait time is 16.6 minutes.
So, if you've figured out whether or not your state has early voting, or what the voter turnout has been thus far — great! Now, let's focus on how you go to vote on a weekday. Sadly, Election Day isn't a federal holiday and there is no national law that requires your boss to give you time to go vote. But, according to Business Insider, a majority of states have voter-leave laws.
Whether or not you will be paid for that time depends on your state — but don't let this deter you. Some companies, like Patagonia, are shutting down for the day because their leaders believe their employees should be a part of the democratic process.
So, good luck today as you go to vote! After today we can all move onto the campaigns for the presidential primaries, and eventually do this all over again in 2020.