Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) is heeding President Barack Obama’s election night call to “fix” the problems voters faced at the polls this year, by introducing legislation that would reward states for election reform. Coons’ bill, titled the Louis L. Redding Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely (FAST) Voting Act of 2012, is modeled on Obama’s Race to the Top program for education. States that make voting faster and more accessible would be rewarded with federal grants. Voters in several states this year — most notably, Florida and Ohio — stood in extraordinarily long lines at the polls, with some people waiting nine hours. Citizens also dealt with shorter early-voting periods, confusion over whether they needed to present photo ID and reports of uncounted ballots.
In his victory speech on election night, Obama thanked voters who braved these conditions to cast ballots, saying, “Whether you voted for the first time, or waited in line for a very long time — by the way, we have to fix that.”
“[The fact that] it appears that there were tens of thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of Americans who had their right to vote denied or compromised by having to wait in line five, six, seven hours is profoundly concerning and upsetting to me,” Coons told reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning.
He called it unacceptable that 12 years after the Florida debacle in the 2000 presidential election there are still such widespread problems.