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Moran Proposes Bill to Reduce Voting Wait Times

by ARLnow.com — December 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm 3,403 55 Comments

Rep. Jim Moran (D) says lines to vote in last month’s election were “prohibitively long,” and is proposing legislation designed to reduce wait times at the polls.

Moran introduced a bill called the Voting Line Reduction and Online Registration Act yesterday (Tuesday). The bill comes a month after Arlington set a new voter turnout record, while residents reported waiting in 3+ hour lines to vote.

“Voters in many states, including Virginia, faced waits of up to four hours to vote, due in large part to insufficient or faulty voting equipment,” the congressman’s office said in a press release. “Moran’s bill addresses these problems by directing the Election Assistance Commission to set a minimum number of voting systems, poll workers, and other election resources at each voting site for all Federal elections.”

The 51-page bill also “establishes a system where individuals can both register and update their voting information” online, and mandates at least a week of early voting. Virginia currently allows in-person absentee voting, but voters must have a valid reason to be voting early.

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  • MrMeow

    Shouldn’t he at least wait a little while before suggesting anything voter related given what happened in his own campaign? Or is everything already forgiven?

    • Gayle

      What does this bill have to do with “what happened in his own campaign”? Totally unrelated to what voters went through in Arlington. I voted early but on voting day the line at my precinct was so long at 8am and it was so cold that I went to Dunkin Donuts and bought 3 boxes of coffee and donuts for the people standing in line. I thank my Congressman for introducing this legislation.

  • Mike

    Patrick Moran had a proposal to reduce wait times as well, but it was a little different – something to do with having other people voting on your behalf . . . .

  • Thes

    On a more serious note, I see that the Arlington Democrats a survey to collect information about voters’ experiences on Election Day.

  • Wesley

    All “Early Voting” is absentee voting, right? You still need to provide a reason you are unable to vote on the day of the election.

    Also, given that precinct populations vary, should the number of machine, workers etc be based on a formula taking into account number of voters?

    • CW

      Yes, in Virginia this is the case. You cannot officially “vote early” just because you feel like it. There are, however, enough reasons to vote absentee that most people can find one that covers them. In other jurisdictions, however, you can vote early on a completely elective (pun intended) basis.

    • EG

      No. Places that allow early voting is generally “no excuse” voting, where you do not need to give a reason to vote before election day.
      Virginia does not have early voting. Instead it has in person absentee voting, where you can only vote in person before election day if you are eligible for an absentee ballot.

      • Michael

        One of the valid excuses is that you’re going to be out of the county at some point during the day. A trip just over the border to get coffee suffices as an excuse.

    • drax

      Many states, and DC, simply open the polls early. In Virginia, you have to vote absentee to vote early.

  • Rick

    What does he care, he’ll win if there’s no line or a 3 hour line?

  • MC 703

    Patrick Moran is a dumbass…. Yes. But the video is definitely NOT showing him or anyone from the campaign engaging in voter fraud or hatching some conspiracy to commit it. It is a man, with a hidden camera and an agenda, trying to get P Moran on camera saying something that sounds like he endorses people voting fraudulently.

  • MC 703

    This proposed legislation is something that people on both ideological sides should be interested in seeing passed.

  • Paul Casimir

    Moran is not only a member of the minority in the House, he is despised by most members of the majority. This bill has the chances of the proverbial snowball.
    More importantly, why is this blog serving as a shill for Moran’s press releases?

    • Road Diet

      Eh, because he is our representative?

      • Paul Casimir

        Do you actually believe that because someone has been elected to office he should be treated without skepticism and we should suspend reality? I pointed out what should be obvious to anyone with any knowledge of the House of Reps. Moran is despised by the majority and any bill he introduces will be pushed aside, despite any perceived merits. That’s reality and that’s politics.

    • drax

      Do you have an opinion on the content of the bill or are you just here to slam Moran?

      • Paul Casimir

        I’m not slamming Moran, I’m just describing reality. I haven’t read the bill and do not intend to read it. Why waste precious times on something that has absolutely no chance of passing.
        I’ll bet you were one of those who defends Moran when he gets violent and starts to throw punches, regardless of the age of the person he’s mad at.

    • Ballston

      Regardless of what the flyover state representatives think of him, it’s hard to argue that this isn’t a good idea. Online only registration could be a challenge, it would likely require a credit card or some other proof that the person registering both exists and is actually that person. However, mandating numbers of poll workers and equipment is hard to disagree with.

    • Paco

      Wow, “despised” by the likes of Joe Wilson, Steve King, Todd Akin, Allan West, Eric Cantor, the Tennessee pro-life doctor who encouraged his mistress to get an abortion…

      Poor Jim.

  • Jon

    If I can go to the DMV’s website to see the current wait time for transferring a car title, and to the TSA’s website to see current and historical wait times to pass through security at an airport, why can’t the board of elections do the same?

    I understand the constraints of the infrastructure perhaps not allowing that to occur in real-time, but at least publish data after each election so going forward, people know what the general patterns are.

    Oh, and it’s a disgrace that polls close at 7pm. Extend it to 9, or at least 8.

    • Oz

      Great idea, Jon! I hope you’re willing to volunteer to work the polls. You have to be there at 5 am to set everything up before polls open @ 6. Oh, and you can’t leave until all the results are tallied and posted and everything’s broken back down again for the county to pick up – that’s usually about 2 hours after the polls close, so… 10/11 PM? Sounds like a super-fun day!

      What’s a disgrace is that the county scrapes to get enough poll workers and distributes them as best they can, though I’ve worked precincts with 3000+ voters and 4 total poll workers. Honestly, twice as many poll workers are needed, along with an amendment that would allow workers to work shifts (5-2, 2-10, etc).

  • roquer

    Hell Yes, why not? This same jackass brought us the ‘motor voter’ law in 1994 which set the stage for the 9/11 terrorist to be able to get their false driver licenses right here in good ole Arlington, VA!! Anything this fool does is not designed for anything but vote pandering, and eventual illegalities!!

    • drax

      What a lame comment. We should not make voting harder for ourselves just because of some terrorists. We’ve made getting, or faking, an ID much more difficult since 9/11, that has nothing to do with voting.

      • DCBuff

        Actually, getting an ID does have a lot to do with voting these days. But keep on keeping on.

    • Ballston

      Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I’m pretty sure motor voter had nothing to do with states granting drivers’ licenses. All it did was force states to allow people to register to vote when getting a driver’s license. But by all means continue your outrage. Also, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 was not in 1994, so you’re wrong twice.

      • drax

        He’s just another rightwing troll spewing random stuff and hoping nobody will bother to check his facts.

  • ID

    To reduce the rate he proposes to reduce the number of people waiting. While waiting, Arlington volunteers will come around with a tray of shots to which those in line will have to do. Those who pass out will not vote. Those that have tolerance will be able to do so.

  • Curious george

    So every 4 years, when we have high voter turnout, you have to wait in line for an hour or two. Big deal.

    • Gayle

      An hour or two, not so much a a problem. 3 hours or more–a big deal.

      • Thest

        Lazy

  • NorthArlington

    Actually, mandating number of poll workers, machines, poll books and everything else is a horrible idea because it assumes that a federal entity knows best for local populations. Each state has their own way of running an election, and works with the local election officials to ensure they are ready on Election day. When turnout next year for the election is minimal in comparison to 2012 and 2008 and all that money that was poured into machines that sit around collecting dust, or poll workers who are sitting there twiddling their thumbs, you are going to complain that the money Virginia was forced to spend (because there is no money at the federal level for all of this) would have been better used on (take your pick): roads, schools, parks, etc.

    This is just another attempt to a) provide work to a federal agency that doesn’t have any work to do and b) weaken our federalist government by mandating things that really aren’t in the purview of Congress.
    And for those who bitch about the fact that Virginia only has in-person absentee voting – the person who pointed out that the excuses are so elastic and numerous that they should just call it early is absolutely spot on. There is no reason that someone in Virginia who wants to vote before election day cannot, especially when election officials tell you, “If you’re even out of the jurisdiction for 5 minutes, that can count as being absent.” (and yes, I’ve had election office workers in Arlington tell me that).

    As for people who think that election day should be lengthened – tell that to poll workers who are there from before 5:30 am. If people actually bothered to respect the whole election process, the wait times wouldn’t have been an issue this time around – and I know because I was monitoring this information all day. The fact of the matter is that people took longer than usual to vote in the booth, in the majority of jurisdictions. In Fairfax, the problem was that people who hadn’t voted in 2008 and 2010 (the last 2 federal elections) showed up to vote and had to go through an additional process of affirming that they were at the same address and the same voter who was currently deemed as inactive (although they couldn’t be bothered to respond to the mailers sent by the election offices trying to verify that they were still at the address prior to election day). Say what you will, but Virginia already has a formula and system in place to figure out how many ballots, machines, workers, etc – but how long did each and every single one of you take in the polls to read the constitutional amendments and the bond issues? How many people actually researched, prior to going to the polls, how they would vote on each option on the ballot? How many people knew how long the ballot was?

    Until you can fix it so that voters actually show up prepared to the polls, you’re going to continue having long lines even when all machines are working, whenever you have above average turnout.

    • Maureen

      I worked the polls most of the day as a volunteer, ecouraging folks to stay and not walk away.

      I also voted early absentee b/c I knew that I would be working the polls on election day. I am a pretty darned informed voter. Involved with my party, work in politics, read the paper, listen to the radio and I heard absolutely NOTHING about the constitutional ammendments BEFORE I went to vote. Gratefully, because I voted as earlier as I could, I had time to read the materials and determine my position at the Courthouse location. Additionally, I was grateful for my law school education on figuring out what, exactly, these proposed constitutional ammendments were trying to do. In short, more information needed to be provided about these proposed ammendments — and it needed to be provided LONG before anyone got in the voting booth. You also shouldn’t be griping about people doing their best under trying circumstance to quickly educate themselves on an issue before voting. Or was that the Republican’s plan all along — keep everyone in the dark that it would be on the ballet, insure that we had limited or no information about the proposal and then force us to vote uninformed?

      Additionally, many countries have allowed national elections to be held either on the weekends or have allowed election day to be a national holiday. I think either of these ideas would be great for the United States. We need to make it easier and less onerous for people to be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote rather than trying to suppress it.

      We have tremendous voter particpation in Arlington — it should continue to be encouraged and if additional resources help, then bring it on!

      • Ed

        I thought when they hold the classes to prepare the volunteers for their duty at the polls that the ballot issues are explained, which should include listing the amendments that are to be on the ballot.

        At least, that’s what a family member who works at the polls told me.

      • Arlingtoner33

        Maureen, you nailed it. We as a country need to make changes to the voting process. When the electoral college (finally) is no more, millions more people will be voting as well in states where their vote has been ‘meaningless,’ so this issue will happen all over if no changes are made.

      • LEBELE

        We got all the info we needed to vote on the Maryland constitutional amendments. The Post and TV news kept us well-informed on those.

        Just sort of forgot their Virginia readers. Meanwhile, the amendments were big news and common knowledge in the Hampton Roads area.

      • Beth M.

        When I went to the volunteer training for the Democrats, they talked about the bonds and the amendments and explained why the official party was taking certain positions. If you went to the volunteer training, I think you were pretty well informed because you were supposed to know enough about them from the training to have an intelligent conversation about them.

      • SAW662

        It did not take a J.D. to figure out what the constitutional amendments were saying. It takes a thing called google.

        It does not matter if you vote absentee or on election day, you shouldn’t be trying to figure out who or what you are going to vote for in the booth.

        Everyone that decides to vote should do the research prior to the day they intend to vote. Relying on a light blue papaer passed out by a “volunteer” is not fulfilling your civic duty.

        I do agree that election day should be a national holiday.

    • Jon

      Your entire comment can be picked apart, as you are focusing on implementing the reforms over what we already have. Perhaps we need to reexamine the entire structure of the day. As others have said, move it to a weekend or declare it a federal holiday.

      It seems the problem with so many involved with elections is that they are too narrow-minded to appreciate and understand some of the larger reforms that are called for.

      Just one example is when you stated: “As for people who think that election day should be lengthened – tell that to poll workers who are there from before 5:30 am. If people actually bothered to respect the whole election process, the wait times wouldn’t have been an issue this time around.”

      Wow, tough nut to crack on that. Oh, perhaps make it so that people were not forced to volunteer the entire day, which is the solution that other states that have voting to 8p/9p have decided to do.

    • Arlingtonian

      NorthArlington stated “when election officials tell you, “If you’re even out of the jurisdiction for 5 minutes, that can count as being absent.” (and yes, I’ve had election office workers in Arlington tell me that).” That election official was illegally encouraging voter fraud. Virginia law does not permit absentee balloting under any such condition. Anyone who observes a public official making such incorrect statements needs to report this to the appropriate authorities (probably the Election Board). It is irresponsible in a democracy for anyone to not report such an incident when it involves a election official.

      • Beth M.

        http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/Files/Forms/VoterForms/ABApplication.pdf

        There is no minimum time which you need to be out of the jurisdiction to be eligible for absentee balloting. If you legitimately plan to be out of the county, and that could just be to meet someone for breakfast or even pick up dry cleaning, that is not voter fraud.

    • Oz

      NA, you win the internets!

  • Election Officer

    The issue here is convenience and cost. As an election officer for many years, I would make it MORE inconvenient to vote. I’d require voters to know the name of the persons they’re going to vote for . . . but that’s not very progressive, I know. Anyway, convenience aside, more voting machines means more money, which means more taxes, or, heaven forbid, re-allocating current finds. I’d guess that re-allocating funds wouldn’t be very progressive either. Just saying.

  • Ed

    Make presidential election days holidays. Problem solved.

    • malaka

      yes! Then I could take off and get out of town – so I would qualify for absentee voting! Problem solved!

  • T

    Make our local wingnuts happy with express voting lanes for the rich. Just bring your EasyPass with you to the polls.

  • ID

    I loved the line. Why? It reminded me that there was some guy in Afghanistan freezing his ass off and worried about dying on some remote mountain ridge for my right to stand there. I loved the line because it gave me a chance to talk to some of my neighbors for the most part who do not interact with anyone else otherwise. I loved the line because it gave me time to introspectively think about the process that makes us Americans. Yes, I loved the line.

    • Oz

      Thank you, ID!

    • DCBuff

      Best comment. No line for me, so nothing to think about.

  • Dan

    Not to worry….I think that it will be quite a number of election cycles before we see that kind of turn out again.

  • JustMe

    Moran just wants to make it easy for voter fraud, sad he keeps getting reelected. I voted around 2:30 and didn’t have any wait at all.

  • Arlingtonian

    The House of Representatives has (and will have in its next session) a substantial Republican majority. Moran’s bill favors the election of Democrats, especially in urban areas. As a result, his bill is certain to die in a House committee. Moran must know that his bill is nothing more than a political gesture.

    • drax

      It’s fun when your politics and basic American values like the right to vote line up though.

  • Sharon T.

    Typical Moran idiocy, of all of the real reforms needed in our election system….this?

  • DCBuff

    51 pages? Seriously? What other “problems” is he trying to solve?

  • Sal Paradise

    This bill would be a start. When the Republicans are trying so hard to make it even harder to vote, you know that this is onto something (guess who will vote against it if it gets that far in Congress). I don’t think any federal action should tell how, but it should demands local fixes that will establish ‘normal and fair’ waiting periods in line. How do you get there? Well, let each locality decided that. But a standard, one that makes the wait reasonable, it the key to this. I’ve worked many elections, so I’m not just blowing smoke. A standard should be a fair amount of time spent waiting to vote, taking into account the weather, handicaps, safety and work schedules. Again, local officials will (or should) know how to get to that standard. If they need federal money to help, they should get it. This is something that can be codified and made workable.

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