Washington, D.C. – Representatives Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA) and James
Langevin (D-RI) reintroduced the FAST Voting Act. The legislation aims to improve
voter participation, encourage automatic voter registration and enhance voting
system security.

Based on the Department of Education’s successful Race to the Top program, the FAST
Voting Act would allow states to apply for funding to implement innovative policy
changes designed to increase voter access and voting system security. Rather than
prescribe strict, universal policy proposals, the legislation offers states
flexibility to implement individualized reforms. Applicants would compete for grants
based on evidence of previous reforms and implementation plans for further
innovations. In addition, any state that is interested in implementing an automatic
voter registration provision would qualify for grant funding.

“Access to the ballot is fundamental to American democracy,” said Rep. Gerry
Connolly (D-VA). “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.”

“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,” said Rep. Jim Langevin. “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.”

Voter turnout in the United States remains extremely low when compared with other
established democracies, placing the country 31st among the 35 countries in the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. For example, in the 2016
election, only 59 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot for president. Those
voters who did make it to the polls relied on outdated voting equipment. According
to the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 43 states used equipment more than a
decade old. This led to equipment breakdown and long lines.