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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Voters shouldn’t have to stand in line for hours, but during last night’s Democratic primaries in Texas and California, that nightmare played out in earnest.

Why it matters: Long wait times put a special hardship on low-income voters who are less likely to have flexible work hours, around-the-clock transportation and child care.

In California, machine jams slowed the rolls, delaying lines up to two hours, per the Los Angeles Times.

  • Errors by electronic voter registration equipment also forced citizens to cast provisional ballots that would not be counted until election workers could confirm an individual's eligibility.
  • Voters also expressed confusion over how to use new voting machines, including having to click "more" to see additional candidates in some races.

In Texas, citizens reportedly left precincts due to long lines that took up to six hours, CNN reports.

  • Some of Texas' longest waits were in Harris County, where 40% of the population is Latino and 19% is black.
  • In Austin, precinct openings were delayed after officials failed to show up to work over coronavirus fears, per the Statesman.
  • In Houston, voters in some precincts waited up to five hours amid questions over how the county clerk allocated voting machines, the Houston Chronicle notes.
  • Voters at Texas Southern University — an HBCU — faced malfunctioning machines, per Texas Monthly.

Between the lines: States with a history of voter discrimination used to have to get Justice Department approval to change how they ran elections. That changed in 2013, when the Supreme Court struck down the provision enforcing that.

  • Since then, southern states have closed more than 1,200 polling sites, according to a 2019 report by the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights.

The bottom line: America’s democracy has always featured some form of unequal access to the ballot box, but last night was a particularly stark warning about what might be ahead in November.

Go deeper

Senate Democrats reach deal on extending unemployment insurance

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Democrats struck a deal Friday evening to extend unemployment insurance in President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package after deliberating and halting other action for roughly nine hours, per a Senate aide.

Why it matters: The Senate can now resume voting on other amendments to the broader rescue bill.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.

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