President Obama promised to address election standards in his acceptance speech, and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is stepping up by introducing a bill called the LINE Act (Lines Interfere with National Elections Act). The LINE Act is election reform legislation to address national standards for waiting times at the polls. “The bill explicitly states that the goal of minimum standards is to prevent a waiting time of more than one hour at any polling place.”
I’m sure the voters in Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Virginia would appreciate not having to camp out in order to exercise their franchise.
In a statement, Ms. Boxer said, “It is unacceptable that many Americans had to wait in line for five, six or seven hours to cast their ballots. The LINE Act will help ensure that every American has an equal chance to vote without enduring hours-long delays at their polling places.”
According to Senator Boxer’s statement, the bill would “require the Attorney General, in consultation with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), to issue new national standards by January 1, 2014 regarding the minimum number of voting machines, election workers, and other election resources that are necessary to conduct Federal elections on Election Day and during early voting periods. The bill explicitly states that the goal of minimum standards is to prevent a waiting time of more than one hour at any polling place.”
One hour. That’s almost sane. But it gets better. Those states where a “substantial number of voters” had to wait longer than 90 minutes to vote in the 2012 election would be required to comply with a “remedial plan” to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.
Since we have several Florida Republicans saying on the record that the long lines were intended to prohibit Democrats from voting, it’s fair to say that if the lines are cut and more people vote, it wouldn’t be good for the Republican Party. Not that we needed Republicans to admit this in order to realize the purpose of their largely imaginary “voter fraud” justification for laws that make it harder to vote, but having evidence of intent is different than surmising intent.
No matter- many things are not good for the Republican Party, precisely because they are good for the citizens of this country. In other words, just because the GOP doesn’t like it when more people vote is no reason to continue to tolerate their election games. Everyone qualified to vote should have the ability to vote, and they shouldn’t have to wait in seven hour lines or face caging or intimidation in order to do it.
Any guesses as to how the Republican Party will vote on a bill to make voting easier for Americans? Right. But you can’t get anywhere unless you take the first step, and getting them on record as being against making voting sane is a worthwhile venture for future attempts to address the issue.
Then again, Reid reiterated his promise to change the filibuster rules yesterday, saying, “We’re going to change the rules. We cannot continue in this way.” He would most likely do that on the first day of the new legislative session in January (on which day the Standing Rules of the Senate can be changed with a simple majority vote), so it’s possible that we might see some real action out of this Senate after historic high levels of filibusters by Republicans (not to mention the secret holds and refusal to confirm appointees).
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.