Twelve years after the hanging-chad voting debacle in Florida, the U.S. still faces an imperfect process of voting. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del) wants to fix that.
Coons is introducing the Louis L. Redding Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely Voting Act of 2012— shortened to FAST in response to the long lines and voting restrictions, including voter ID laws, used in the 2012 election.
Hearing about Americans waiting for five, six or seven hours to cast their ballot made it clear to Coons that something needed to be done to fix the flaws in the system, he told Chris Jansing Tuesday. Coons’ proposal looks to give a yet-undecided amount of grant money to states as an incentive to “audit what went wrong” with voting in 2012, and to propose new solutions to problems in the processes of registration, early voting, vote-by-mail, and voting access, among others.
The bill is co-sponsored by Senate Democrats, including Sen. Mark Warner from Virginia and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and House Democrats Gerry Connolly and Jim Langevin, also of Virginia and Rhode Island, respectively.
Coons is hopeful the bill could garner bipartisan support.
“My hope is that after this election, all of us will focus on things we need to do to strengthen our country…so although there were some partisan efforts to suppress the vote by reducing the number of hours, or voting locations, or changing the rules of voting, I hope that we can get Republican co-sponsors for this bill in the House and the Senate who will join me and other Senators and embrace the idea that we send a message to the rest of the world.”
Coons is not alone in introducing legislation to ease voting for Americans. California Rep. George Miller recently introduced the Streamlining and Improving Methods at Polling Locations and Early (SIMPLE) Voting Act, which includes such requirements as a minimum of 15 days of early voting and states to have contingency plans in the event that long lines, seemingly inevitably, develop.