WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA) reintroduced the FAST Voting Act. The legislation aims to enhance voting system security, improve voter participation, and encourage automatic voter registration.
Modeled after 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.
“Ensuring every American has the opportunity to participate in our elections is at the core of our democracy,” said Langevin. “We must fight for policies that will protect and expand access to the ballot box and increase the security of the voting systems we rely on. As the former chief election official for the state of Rhode Island, I am proud to join Rep. Connolly in introducing the FAST Voting Act to safeguard the vote and encourage higher voter participation.”
“Access to the ballot is fundamental to American democracy,” said Connolly. “In recent years, several states have taken action to restrict the franchise under the guise of preventing “voter fraud.» And earlier this month, North Carolina’s state electoral board was forced to call a new election in the race for the 9th congressional district because Republican operatives were caught stealing minority and senior votes. 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, protect the ballot, and streamline the voting process.”
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 Those voters who did make it to the polls relied on outdated voting equipment.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.
Text of the bill is available here.