Inspired by the plight of battleground-state voters who had to wait in lines for hours to cast their ballots, a Bay Area congressman today announced he’ll carry a bill requiring early voting and adequate poll machines and staffing.
The forthcoming Streamlining and Improving Methods at Polling Locations and Early (SIMPLE) Voting Act from Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, would require early voting in all states for federal elections, for a minimum of 15 days before Election Day. Currently, 15 states lack any form of early voting; those with early voting allow it for varying periods, and in some states such as Florida – where some of the nation’s longest lines occurred – the number of days was shortened in last week’s election.
Miller also intends to require that states ensure all voting precincts have adequate resources – meaning voting machines and poll workers – so that no voter must wait in line for more than one hour to vote. And states will have to develop contingency plans for resolving situations in which long lines develop anyway.
“The right to vote is among our nation’s most sacred rights, surely we can do a better job of ensuring that voters do not have to choose between meeting their daily responsibilities to their families or employers and exercising this solemn responsibility,” Miller said in a news release. “There are a number of well-documented impediments to voting that must be corrected. My bill is in no way intended to solve all of our voting problems but it does offer two simple and clear-cut solutions that experts agree will make voting easier and help to reduce inexcusably long wait times for people casting their ballots in person.”