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Wyden, Merkley introduce bill to end lengthy wait in lines to vote

Many Americans wait in long lines to cast their ballot
MGN
Many Americans wait in long lines to cast their ballot

Goal is to ensure every American can vote in 30 minutes; includes $500 million to help states cut wait times

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said Thursday they have introduced legislation to end hours-long lines at polling places that suppress hundreds of thousands of American votes, and to restore our Constitutional rights to vote in free and fair elections.

Although expanded early voting and voting from home kept lines short in many states, hours-long lines were spotted in Mississippi, Georgia and a handful of other states last year. Studies estimate that nearly 3 million voters waited more than 30 minutes to vote in 2018, and that more than 500,000 Americans were denied the ability to vote because of long lines, with Black and Hispanic communities disproportionately impacted.

The People Over Long Lines (POLL) Act would require state and local governments to end these forms of voter suppression. The bill requires states to file public plans detailing how they will ensure voters can cast ballots with waiting times of less than 30 minutes and require audits by the Election Assistance Commission to determine how many voters face longer waits. The bill includes $500 million to help states reduce voter wait times.

“No one should be shut out of the democratic process just because they can’t spend hours waiting in lines to cast a ballot,” Wyden said. ”Making voting accessible and convenient shouldn’t be a partisan issue. I have never heard Oregonians – Democrats or Republicans – tell me they long for the days where voting took longer. It’s time to pass the POLL act and put an end to unreasonable lines in every state.”

“Forcing people to wait in long lines to vote is a long-standing tool used to prevent citizens from voting to manipulate elections, and like nearly every voter suppression strategy in American history, it's directed six times as often at people of color," said Merkley. “Nobody should have to spend hours out in the weather, when they might need to get to work or pick up their kids, to exercise their constitutional rights. If we believe in the freedom to vote and democracy, let's make sure staffing and equipment are distributed equitably so nobody has to wait more than 30 minutes to vote.”

The POLL Act would also create a private right of action of $50 for voters forced to wait for longer than 30 minutes, with an additional $50 for every hour after that. Penalties would increase if a court determines long lines were the result of intentional voter suppression or reckless disregard for election plans. Successful plaintiffs would also be entitled to court costs.

It is supported by leading voting rights groups, including Stand Up America, Demand Progress, Voter Protection Corps and Fair Fight Action.

The senators' news release states Wyden has been a national leader in the fight to make voting more accessible and secure, introducing legislation every Congress since 2006 to allow all Americans to vote by mail, and pushing Congress to defend elections against foreign hackers and other interference

Read a summary of the bill here and the bill text here.

KTVZ news sources

Comments

12 Comments

  1. “Black and Hispanic communities disproportionately impacted.” Of course… Good thing there are wealthy white progressives like these two to take care of the Black and Hispanic communities because any good leftist knows they are incapable of doing anything for themselves. And if there needs to be a law to ensure no one has to wait more than 30 minutes to vote, why do we need 30 days of early voting?

    1. I don’t care if it’s 30 days early or 30 seconds before the polls close. The election process belongs to us, the citizens, NOT the politicians or parties. A government that is intentionally erecting barriers for ANY legal voter to cast a ballot is a threat to democracy.

      1. Read the constitution. There aren’t even many big words in it. Voting laws are made by state legislatures. It is absolute fact several sates violated the constitution when they ignored going through the legislative process to change vote laws. Deal with it. No where does it say “except in a pandemic” in the constitution. They cheated and changed the rules and there is no denying it.

        1. You do understand that the Constitution is a federal document? You do understand there are several amendments regarding elections? You do understand the Constitution is the highest law of the land and no state law can supersede the Constitution? Any election law a state passes must pass Constitutional (federal) muster and the the federal government can, has and will continue to pass laws regarding elections. Congratulations, you live in a federal republic.

        1. The legitimacy of elections has become a national issue. The right thinks elections are being stolen and the left thinks voters are being suppressed. I’d question why we don’t see a truly bipartisan bill to resolve that fundamental mistrust? It’s almost like the parties think there is advantage in the divisiveness….nah…surely not…

          1. It’s not up to the Congress. It is a STATE issue. They have ZERO business making vote laws. But then again, I don’t expect these two even know what the Constitution is. And still waiting for Wyden to explain why he can get away with human smuggling. No one is above the law, right?

  2. Why don’t these two trough feeders do something like stopping Biden for allowing the prices of everything to go to hell. Out of hate for Trump the country is heading backward.

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