EMPORIA, VA – There are no lines to vote in this sleepy town and 80 miles south of Richmond, but that doesn’t mean turnout isn’t high. When I asked a poll worker at the local social services office polling location she said “Oh it’s very high, I can tell you that.” As word streams in from around the country of long lines to vote, particularly in polling locations that are usually as quiet and empty as a church on Wednesday, it strikes me that over several decades of low turnout contests (presidential elections strain to buck 50% turnout of eligible voters) our entire election system has now come to orient itself towards low-turnout elections. All of a sudden we’re finding out that if even two thirds of eligible voters decide to vote, and that would be high even for the estimates in this election, the system can’t handle it.
Seems like the default should be an election system that is designed for and can process every single person on the polls. If there’s spare capacity it doesn’t seem too high a cost to pay to make sure everyone gets a chance to exercise the franchise.