Political scientists have long been outraged over voting waiting times, but a new study has revealed it is not just an inconvenience – it is also a civil rights issue.
By matching the location data from 10 million smartphones to 93,000 polling facilities in the US, researchers found that those in predominately black neighborhoods waited 29 percent longer than those living in primarily white areas.
Smartphone 'pings' were collected from within nearly 200 miles of each poling location during the 2016 presidential election and combined with demographic data to determine the racial differences in voting wait times.
By matching the location data from 10 million smartphones to 93,000 polling facilities in the US, researchers found that those in predominately black neighborhoods waited 29 percent longer than those living in primarily white areas
The study was conducted by a team of experts ranging in fields of business, economics and management, who collectively believe 'equal access to voting is a core feature of democratic government'.
'Relative to entirely-white neighborhoods, residents of entirely-black neighborhoods waited 29% longer to vote and were 74% more likely to spend more than 30 minutes at their polling place,' the team shared in the study published in Arxiv.
The researchers created a map of used 93,658 different polling places across the US.
They then used smartphone pings that came within nearly 200 feet of a selected polling place.
At the end of the collection, there was a sample of more than 150,000 voters at 40,000 polling locations.
In order to determine the race of these neighborhoods, the team looked to demographic data from the US Census.
'This disparity holds when comparing predominantly white and black polling places within the same states and counties, and survives numerous robustness and placebo tests.'
'Our results document large racial differences in voting wait times and demonstrates that geospatial data can be an effective tool to both measure and monitor these disparities.'
To get their results, researchers used 93,658 different polling places across the US and converted each location into latitude and longitude coordinates in order to create a map of voting spots using Google Maps API and use Microsoft-OpenStreetmaps, according to Scientific American.