What Is a Short Wait to Vote?

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A recent report from Bernalillo County, NM, on the 2012 election examined voters’ definitions of their wait times when given a choice of “no wait time,” “short,” “moderate,” or “long.” Respondents were also asked to report the time in minutes that they spent in line to vote. The study found significant overlap in the actual wait times of voters, who interpreted their waits differently. Respondents who chose:

  •  “No wait” actually waited an average of 2 minutes, with a range of 0 to 15 minutes. 
  •  “Short” averaged a wait time of 8 minutes, with a range of 0 to 30 minutes. 
  •  “Moderate” averaged 28 minutes in line, with a range of 0 to 60 minutes. 
  •  “Long” averaged 72 minutes in line, with a range of 30 to 120 minutes. 

According to the report, the data suggest that voters find wait times under 30 minutes acceptable, but they prefer to wait less than 15 minutes. 

Since 2006, Bernalillo County election officials have partnered with researchers at the University of New Mexico on in-depth studies of election administration. Some of the county’s prior findings are here.

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