How One California Senator Hopes To Fix Long Lines At Polling Places

Democrats all over the country are riding the tide of voters’ frustration with the long lines and election chaos caused by Republican vote-suppressing measures this election cycle. Florida legislators are pushing a bill to restore early voting days, while Michigan is considering implementing early voting and same-day voter registration. On the federal level, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) proposed a national reform Wednesday targeting the hours-long delays many Americans faced when they tried to vote.

The LINE Act would require federal polling place standards by January 2014 — just in time for the midterm elections. Boxer’s press release explains:

The LINE Act (or the Lines Interfere with National Elections Act) would require the Attorney General, in consultation with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), to issue new national standards by January 1, 2014 regarding the minimum number of voting machines, election workers, and other election resources that are necessary to conduct Federal elections on Election Day and during early voting periods. The bill explicitly states that the goal of minimum standards is to prevent a waiting time of more than one hour at any polling place.

Senator Boxer’s bill also would require states where voters endured long lines to implement remedial plans to fix the problems before the next federal election. Under the legislation, the Attorney General working with the EAC would identify states that had a substantial number of voters who waited more than 90 minutes to vote in the 2012 election. Those states would have to comply with a remedial plan to ensure voters would not face similar delays in the future.

After logistical chaos and nightmarish lines in critical swing states like Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, Boxer also wrote a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) asking him to assess and improve the Election Assistance Commission’s functionality. The EAC was established after the deeply controversial 2000 presidential election, but is currently operating without a single commissioner or executive director. Boxer’s bill is an attempt to revitalize the agency and allow it to set basic standards for states’ election procedures.