Seven hours in line to vote? That’s outrageous in America. But many voters faced waits like that on election day because of some states’ attempts to discourage voting rather than encourage it. The federal government has to intervene and set some rules. All Americans should have reasonable access to the polls. California Sen. Barbara Boxer has a proposal she calls the LINE Act that could work. It would require national standards for the number of voting machines, election workers and other resources to ensure no one has to wait longer than an hour to vote.
In addition, states that had waits longer than 90 minutes in November would need to submit remedial plans. Even an hour’s wait is a lot. Yet in some states, including Virginia, Ohio, Nevada and Florida, voters waited four hours or more, both in early voting periods and on election day. This is like a modern-day poll tax — costly for those who choose to wait and a deterrent for countless others who have to get to work or pick up a child.
President Barack Obama noticed. In his victory speech on election night, he said, “I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time.” “By the way,” he added, “we have to fix that.”
Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that national voting standards are worth considering. Boxer has urged him to see what the Justice
Department can do under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.