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Sen. Mark R. Warner co-sponsors FAST Voting Act ~Incentive grants…

6:45 pm - 11/16/2012

Sen. Mark R. Warner co-sponsors FAST Voting Act

~Incentive grants for states to expedite voting, reducing lines and wait times~
CONTACT: Kevin Hall (Warner) 202 228 6884, Ian Koski (Coons) 202 224 4216

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Sen. Chris Coons (D-DEL) in introducing legislation today that will make voting faster and more accessible to all voters. The Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely (FAST) Voting Act of 2012 creates a competitive grant program to encourage states to aggressively pursue election reforms. It would provide incentives for states like Virginia to invest in practices and technology designed to expedite voting at the polls and simplify voter registration.

The bill was introduced a week after an Election Day that saw extraordinarily long lines in Virginia and in a dozen other states. Some voters in Prince William County, for instance, reported waiting in lines for up to three hours. Wait times reportedly stretched to five hours at some voting precincts in Chesapeake, and more than four hours at polling places in Virginia Beach.

“The extremely long lines and wait times that many Virginia voters experienced at the polls last week were completely unacceptable,” Sen. Warner said. “The FAST Voting Act addresses this issue in a responsible way: it does not impose new mandates, and authorizes additional resources for those states which step-up with commonsense reforms to make voting faster and accessible to more voters. I encourage Virginia’s elected leaders to embrace this opportunity to improve access for Virginia voters, who should not have to wait in line for hours to exercise their right to cast a ballot.”

“Too many voters waited far too long to cast their ballots in this last election,” Sen. Coons said. “Long lines are a form of voter disenfranchisement, a polling place running out of ballots is a form of voter suppression, and making it harder for citizens to vote is a violation of voters’ civil rights. The FAST Voting Act is a creative way to jumpstart states’ election reform efforts and ensure that what happened last week doesn’t happen again.”

This bill authorizes a federal program that would award grants based on how well applicant states are able to improve access to the polls in at least nine specific ways, including:

Providing flexible registration opportunities, including same-day registration;
Providing early voting, at a minimum of 9 of the 10 calendar days preceding an election;
Providing absentee voting, including no-excuse absentee voting;
Providing assistance to voters who do not speak English as a primary language;
Providing assistance to voters with disabilities, including visual impairment;
Providing effective access to voting for members of the armed services;
Providing formal training of election officials, including State and county administrators and volunteers;
Auditing and reducing waiting times at polling stations; and
Creating contingency plans for voting in the event of a natural or other disaster.
The program also requires the establishment of performance measures and reporting requirements to ensure a state’s progress in eliminating statutory, regulatory, procedural and other barriers to expedited voting and accessible voter registration.

Mark Warner is also part of the so-called "Gang of Eight" coalition that's determined to be a bipartisan budget committee. Tim Kaine is slated to join his group once he is sworn in
bowling_otaku 17th-Nov-2012 05:12 am (UTC)
I freaking love this man. <3
blackjedii 17th-Nov-2012 11:17 am (UTC)
I know, right? A representative that's continually trying to do his job and help his constituents instead of stomping their feet and trying to best Obama? What is this madness!!

fishphile 17th-Nov-2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
I do too! He also has a great record of investing in technology so this isn't just some guy thinking that maybe technology can get the job done. He really believes it can. It's nice to see actual progressive thought coming out of Virginia.
recorded 17th-Nov-2012 06:22 am (UTC)
Sounds like a bi-partisan thing that everyone should agree on.
Republicans will vote against it.
girlwonderrobin 17th-Nov-2012 04:13 pm (UTC)
Of course they will. If they can stop sobbing into their copy of the Republican platform long enough...
thenakedcat 17th-Nov-2012 04:15 pm (UTC)
If Marco Rubio tries to argue against this wonderful commonsense idea, I hope his nose grows to the length of a football stadium.
scifijunkie 17th-Nov-2012 04:48 pm (UTC)
Providing absentee voting, including no-excuse absentee voting;

Is this why more people don't do absentee voting? You have to provide a reason? It's never been like that in Washington, even before we went to all-mail voting. I signed up for mail ballots when I registered at my high school's guidance counselor's office. I've never even voted at a polling place.
girlwonderrobin 17th-Nov-2012 04:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah, unless you have a valid health reason--where I live anyway--you go to the polls or you don't get a vote.
hinoema 17th-Nov-2012 06:03 pm (UTC)
And that's bullshit. The ONLY thing Arizona does right is to have a permanent early vote by mail list.
tabaqui 17th-Nov-2012 05:22 pm (UTC)
Some states make you give a reason, some don't. In my state, you have to check one of five reasons (absence from jurisdiction, disability including being a person who is the primary care-giver for a disabled person, religious belief, employment as an election authority or incarceration but still eligible to vote).

I suppose having to give a reason is kinda bullshite, but then again, you could just check 'absence' and they don't come and check up on you, so it wouldn't be too big a deal.

You can show up to vote with your utility bill or bank statement as your id here, though, so that's a plus.
thenakedcat 17th-Nov-2012 08:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah, some states get really anal about handing out absentee ballots. One reason is supposed to be that they take longer to process than ballots submitted at polling places (because the signature on the envelope has to be checked and such) but the improvement in participation you get when people can vote on their own schedule is hard to argue with, IMO.
moonshaz 18th-Nov-2012 12:11 am (UTC)
You had to provide a reason in Illinois until a few years ago (I forget exactly when, but I'm pretty sure it hasn't been all that long). Fortunately, that's no longer the case; all you have to do now is request an absentee ballot, and they send it, no questions asked.

ETA: I just read some of the other replies, and I see that some states evidently have a permanent vote by mail list. So that's one thing we're not doing right--you have to specially request an absentee ballot for each election.

This stuff really needs to be made a lot more uniform across the country. It's not fair that people in some states/counties/whatever have more opportunities for voting than others. Not fair at all.

Edited at 2012-11-18 12:14 am (UTC)
scifijunkie 18th-Nov-2012 03:26 am (UTC)
In Washington, when you register (at least when I did 10 years ago), you opt for mail-in or polling place, and it stays that way. My county - and I think most of the state - went to all-mail a couple years ago, so now you don't actually have a choice. I haven't seen a polling place in years. They do have drop-off boxes at a number of locations, though, for those who don't want to actually mail it in.
girlwonderrobin 18th-Nov-2012 01:52 pm (UTC)
This is a bit off topic, but I LOVE your icon.
tabaqui 17th-Nov-2012 05:22 pm (UTC)
He rocks. Now, brace for GOP pearl-clutching over 'voter fraud!!!!11!!!'
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