Private contributions to shorten voting lines?

I’d happily write a check to help by more voting machines in Columbus. Wouldn’t you?

A reader makes a point that’s obvious once mentioned, but which I haven’t seen discussed.

The (mostly Democratic) voters in some poor urban areas face long lines to vote because their local elections departments can’t afford enough voting machines. One way to fix that is to switch to optical scanning, where the cost is in the counters and marginal voting station is virtually free.

But taking the technology as fixed, how about private or foundation contributions to simply buy more voting machines? Shortening the voting lines in Columbus would be orders of magnitude more cost-effective than running TV spots, and could probably be done on a tax-deductible basis.

This suggests five questions:

1. Would this be legal?

2. How many of the relevant jurisdictions would accept the money? (In some cases the problem may be state or county officials who don’t want inner-city residents to vote.)

3. Is it being done?

4. If so, where do I send my check?

5. If not, who wants to start it up?

I’m on the road and won’t be keeping up with my email, so I’m going to experiment by allowing comments.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com