A growing number of lawmakers want Congress to step in to streamline voters’ trips to the polls. Although warnings of voter fraud generated far more discussion leading up to Tuesday’s elections, enormous lines in many districts turned out to be the much greater threat to the process, as hours-long waits greeted voters in Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin and elsewhere. The delays have stirred questions about why the United States can’t make it easier to vote, stoked accusations of voter suppression in minority districts and renewed the debate over Washington’s responsibility to safeguard an efficient process.
Now, just days after the polls closed, a number of Democrats say Congress should intervene to “normalize” voting nationwide and ensure the snags at the polls in 2012 don’t plague elections down the line.
“This ought not to be difficult. This is not rocket science,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said in a phone interview Friday. “We’ve got to figure out how to clean up federal elections.”
Rep. Jim Moran, another Virginia Democrat, echoed that message, saying the delays are “unforgivable in a modern society.”
“It’s a form of voter suppression,” Moran said Friday by phone. “For people to have to give up hours out of their work day … how is that different than a poll tax?”
The rash of delays makes it “incumbent on the Congress” to step in and “normalize the process” nationwide, Moran said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also weighed in this week with a damning statement about the nature of Tuesday’s elections — and a call for federal reforms.
“We need to address this problem,” Cummings said Thursday in an email. “There is no reason in this day and age that we should run our elections like a third-world country.”