A pair of Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation on Tuesday that would give federal grants to states to boost voting system security and increase voter access to elections. Reps. Gerry Connolly (Va.) and Jim Langevin (R.I.) introduced the Fair, Accurate, Secure, and Timely (FAST) Voting Act to improve voter participation and voting system security and encourage automatic voter registration. “Access to the ballot is fundamental to American democracy,” Connolly said in a statement. “In recent years, several states have taken action to restrict the franchise under the guise of preventing ‘voter fraud.’ America doesn’t have a voter fraud problem; we have a participation problem. Rather than erect barriers, we should be looking for innovative ways to expand the franchise and streamline the voting process.” Connolly appeared to buck President Trump’s claim of widespread voter fraud during the 2016 presidential election.
The bill would let states compete for federal funding to implement policy changes aimed at increasing voter access to elections and boosting voting system security. It is modeled after the Department of Education’s Race to the Top program, which provides funding for states to develop student assessments. The Election Assistance Commission would award grants to states based on their previous reform efforts and plans for future innovation.
“The right to vote is essential, and we must foster innovative solutions to bring down every barrier to casting a ballot. This is especially true for those in need of flexibility or assistance, such as people with disabilities, members of the armed services, seniors, and minority voters,” Langevin said Tuesday.
“As a former secretary of State, I know how critically important these efforts can be to increasing voter participation and fostering an inclusive electoral process where every American has a voice,” he said.
The lawmakers introduced similar legislation with six other Democratic co-sponsors in 2012, but it was never put up for a vote.