George Miller proposes bill to reduce wait to vote

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.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR senile columnist

    GM’s next bill will require the states to count all ballots in a timely and honest manner. Failure to comply could result in Santa and the Easter bunny skipping those areas at holiday time.

  • Elwood

    Oh yeah! Georgie Porgie’s latest insanity will go over really big in the R controlled House, I’m sure.

    I can hardly wait for him to introduce General Pelosi’s bill endorsing motherhood and the flag.

  • Bruce R, Peterson, Lafayette

    I vote from my recliner, sign it & put a stamp on it. Why can’t the rest of the country figure it out?

  • Publius

    40 years and still pedaling horse crap.

    This guy has been in office since I was born. It is not supoposed to be like this. Is they guy a supreme court justice? Will he serve for life?

    This bill is a waste of time. Move along. Fiscal Cliff, Middle East, Beghazi, Unemployment bomb, the Debt, Entitlements, are a little more important than early voting. George needs to retire. If you retire from a job that does nothing and produces nothing is it still considered retirement?

  • Steve Weir

    Article I, Sec. 4 of the US Constitution states: “The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.”

    The federal government has inserted itself into the electoral franchise through Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Nineteenth, Twenty Fourth, and Twenty Sixth Amendments.

    The federal government has inserted itself into the administration of elections through the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (plus amendments), Motor Voter Act of 1993, and the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

    The obvious legislative efforts to interfere with our citizen’s Constitutional rights to freely express themselves through the voting process merits federal attention. The disparate treatment of citizens between the states is an offensive display of partisan manipulation.

    As to who should address this issue is another matter. That fact is, we are all witnesses to a national effort to suppress voter registration and voter participation in our various states. Addressing this fact should not be a partisan issue. Sadly, it appears to be just that.

  • John W

    @5 Steve Weir

    A huge Amen to Steve’s last two paragraphs. Hopefully, he and other election officials who have not been party to the shenanigans regarding voter ID, voter registration and early voting can help inform and mobilize the public on this.

    The phrase “American exceptionalism” is often used in a jingoistic way. Nothing makes us truly exceptional more than our system of free and fair elections. Take away or devalue that for political gain, and we’re just a second-rate country.

  • Truthclubber

    @6 —

    What John W. said.

  • Publius


    “free and fair elections”

    Voter verification will help secure the integrity of our elections. You can call it suppression, but asking someone to prove that they are who they say they are is a far cry from true voter suppression.

    The Federal Government does have the right to intervene in elections, but it has no business in the “get out the vote” campaign and requiring a state to hold early voting. If a citizen does not have the sense or want to actively participate in an election it is not the responsibility of the government to make them engage in the process. Its really not that hard to vote, and its not that hard to get an ID. Citizenship requires a little work.

  • Elwood

    @ 8

    Yes, but the current regime wants to make it easier for some than others.

    The less motivated you might call them.

  • John W

    Re: 8

    Every study, including one conducted by Bush’s Justice Department, shows that voter impersonation at the voting place is virtually non-existent. Think it through, and you will realize that would be the stupidest, least effective, least efficient, riskiest way to organize voter fraud. California has a long list of different kinds of documents — from drivers licenses to utility bills that can be used to prove identification in certain situations where some proof might be needed.

    The recently enacted voter ID laws require very specific forms of ID that are the most burdensome to obtain and excludes the forms of ID that a targeted voter group might actually already have (e.g., student ID or Social Security card). But, in Texas, got a gun permit? That’s okay to use as voter ID. Those laws are totally rigged to reduce voter participation by blacks, Latinos, students, and elderly city dwellers. A Republican legislative leader in Pennsylvania admitted as much and bragged about it. It’s wrong, wrong, wrong. People died in the 1960’s trying to fix this type of voter exclusion nonsense. Look up Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner.

    As for early voting, I agree that uniformity among states may not be the right approach. However, there should be uniformity within states. In Ohio, they initially tried to keep early voting in Republican-leaning counties and reduce it in Democratic-leaning counties. Sound fair to you?

    Then there’s Florida. The Governor reduced early voting days from 15 to 8, even though they had a 10-page ballot. On election day, people stood in line until 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning to vote. The presidential election had been called before those people ever got to vote. Guess which precincts had the longest lines?

  • Robert S

    And not one word from George Miller about ensuring an honest election. I never thought I’d feel this way, but I am losing confidence in the integrity of our elections. ALL Americans should be in favor of measures to ensure that only eligible citizens vote, that eligible citizens are only able to vote once, and that valid ballots are counted fairly and accurately.

    The vast majority of voting-process “improvements” that come out of the Democratic Party seem aimed primarily at circumventing the above, and making it easier to stuff the ballot box.

  • Steve Weir

    HAVA (Help America Vote Act) requires states to implement an ID system. California tied ours to the DMV and where there’s no DMV ID, Social Security. So, where’s the voter fraud in Calif?

    You should not be concerned about the open and honest manner in which California Registrars count your ballots.

    You have every right to observe this process from beginning to end. If you had been one of the three people who have come to observe our canvass, I think you’d know that fact.

  • Elwood

    Here’s something George should get behind:

    Only in San Francisco!

    “In 2001, San Francisco became the first city in the country to cover the cost of sex change surgeries for transgender city employees. In 2007, it became the first city in the country to provide health care for all uninsured residents through its Healthy San Francisco program.

    Now, San Francisco is combining those firsts into yet another pioneering move by becoming the first city in the country to cover the cost of gender reassignment surgeries for its uninsured transgender residents.”


  • The voting schedule should also not interfere with the people’s daily routine. Instead of voting during Tuesdays, it is more convenient on weekends.