Early Voting Long Lines?

One thing that has puzzled me is exactly why there were long lines for early voting two weeks before the election. If you didn’t have early voting, everyone would be voting on a single day. With early voting, you’ve got 10-12 days where the polls are open, so, theoretically, you’d be dividing up the voters into groups 10-12 times smaller than you’d have on election day.

So, why the long lines?

Say, for instance, you assume that 50% of voters will vote early. You’d need 50% as many polling place hours as you’d have on Election Day (assuming the same number of voting booths and poll workers). If, for instance, your county has 100 polling places, you’d need 50 of them, assuming you had one day of early voting. If you had 10 days of early voting, theoretically, you could get by with 5 early-voting polling places.

Obviously, that’s not going to work, because you’d still have places where more people showed up than expected. So, you might distribute your voting booths more thinly. If, for instance, at your 100 polling places on Election Day you would have 1000 voting booths, you might want to provide, say, 250 voting booths on each of the early voting days. You could do this by spreading them 10 each at 25 polling places, for instance.

If you did that, one expect that, given the law of averages, you might have a few polling places where on some days too many people showed up at once to prevent lines, but surely you oughtn’t have dozens of polling places with long lines on multiple days, as seemed to be the case from the news reports.

So, what’s up? Did the news media pick a few early voting sites with long lines and keep running the same video over and over again? Or did boards of election simply massively underprovision their early voting sites?

If it’s the latter, then why was that? It’s not like early voting was brand new — there was a lot of it in previous election cycles. Maybe the people running our local elections are just stupid. Or maybe they just aren’t trained adequately.

So far, I’ve seen no one try to explain it, except by saying “higher turnout than expected.” How could turnout be so high that it causes long lines at may early voting sites day after day? And then that there’d still be long lines on Election Day?

Something doesn’t add up.