Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Steve Benen reports on a pair of election reform bills introduced in Congress. Dems unveil 'FAST Voting Act':
In the days and weeks leading up to Election Day 2012, it became
painfully clear that voting problems have reached scandalous levels in
many parts of the country. The fear was, once the election was over,
attention would shift, policymakers would move on to other issues, and
memories of voters waiting seven hours to cast a ballot would fade.
Fortunately, it looks like some members of Congress are keeping the issue alive.
Yesterday, Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.)
unveiled a bill they're calling the "Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely
(FAST) Voting Act." Under their proposal, states that "aggressively"
pursue election reforms would be rewarded with federal grants.
what kind of reforms are proponents looking for? It's not a short list,
but the Warner/Coons bill calls for flexible registration
opportunities, including same-day registration; expanding early voting;
"no-excuse" absentee voting; and "formal training of election officials,
including state and county administrators and volunteers."
As best as I can tell, because the FAST Act is roughly modeled after the Race to the Top education initiative — it's a competitive grant program, not a set of federal mandates.
In the House, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) unveiled
a related proposal, the "Streamlining and Improving Methods at Polling
Locations and Early (SIMPLE) Voting Act," which is even more ambitious.
Most notably, it would require 15 days of early voting in all states for
federal elections — and because Congress has authority over regulating
federal elections, the assumption is states would simply apply
identical standards for all down-ballot races.
The introduction of these bills now is intended to lay the groundwork for future efforts in the next Congress.