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Senator Proposes Legislation to Fix Long Voting Lines

A senator has followed up on President Barack Obama’s suggestion that someone should do something about the long voting lines on Election Day. Senator Christopher Coons (D-Del.) filed the Fair, Accurate, Secure, and Timely Voting Act of 2012 (FAST Voting Act) as a way to speed up reforms to the nation’s voting systems and simplify voter registration. The act would instruct the attorney general to award grants to states on a competitive basis for plans to upgrade their system. The law does not specify how much funding the bill would require. The states would be chosen based in part on how their plans address two big concerns from November 6: contingency voting in the event of a natural or other disaster (like Hurricane Sandy); and the wait times at the persistently poorest performing polling stations within the jurisdiction of the applicant. The bill also specifically mentions states that provide flexible registration opportunities, including online and same-day registration and registration updating; provide early voting, at a minimum of 9 of the 10 calendar days preceding an election, at sufficient and flexible hours; and provide absentee voting, including no-excuse absentee voting. “More than a dozen states, including Ohio, Wisconsin, South Carolina, New York and Montana, experienced some kind of breakdown in the administration of their elections,” Coons said in a statement on the bill. “This is the United States of America. The right to vote is in our DNA. We have to get this right.” Obama’s victory speech on November 6 mentioned voters who waited in long lines to cast ballots. "I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time,” Obama said. “By the way, we have to fix that.”


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