Concerned that some voters had to wait hours before casting their ballots, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced a bill on Wednesday intended to guarantee that voters in federal elections can exercise their right without unreasonable delays.
“It is unacceptable that many Americans had to wait in line for five, six or seven hours to cast their ballots,” Boxer said, announcing her proposed legislation, dubbed the LINE Act. (The acronym stands for “lines interfere with national elections.”)
Boxer said her bill would require the Attorney General, in consultation with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, to issue new national standards by Jan. 1, 2014, on the minimum number of voting machines, election workers and other aspects of federal elections and 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,” she said.
The legislation would be aimed especially at states where “a substantial number” of people had to wait 90 minutes or more before voting on Nov. 6.
“Voters in Florida, Virginia, Ohio and other states waited in line for up to seven hours to cast ballots,” Boxer said. “Some voters were still in line in the early hours of Wednesday morning, long after the polls had closed.” In his election night speech, she noted, President Barack Obama promised that fixing such problems would be a top priority.
Republican state officials in Florida and Ohio contributed to the delays by restricting early voting, prompting accusations from Democrats that they were trying to make it harder for Democratic-leaning voters to cast ballots. Statistics show that Republicans are generally more likely to wait to vote until Election Day.
Boxer recently wrote the Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, urging them to recommend nominees to the independent, bipartisan Election Assistance Commission.