Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Democracy Docket: “No democratic country should stand for a status quo where voters have to stand in line for hours. That’s why I’m introducing People Over Long Lines (POLL) Act to require state governments to ensure every voter has the opportunity to vote within 30 minutes, a time that a bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration decided should be the maximum amount of time any voter should have to wait. My legislation requires states to file public plans detailing how they will ensure voters can cast ballots with waiting times of less than 30 minutes, and it institutes audits by the Election Assistance Commission to determine how many voters face longer waits. To ensure governments can meet those new rules, the bill provides $500 million to help states reduce wait times.”
In addition, the POLL Act does not leave enforcement of its requirements up to political judgment at the U.S. Justice Department. The POLL Act gives American voters the power to fight long lines by allowing them to file a lawsuit if they wait in unreasonably long lines. If their suit is successful, they are entitled to receive $50 for waiting longer than 30 minutes and an additional $50 for every hour after that. Penalties would increase if a court determines long lines were the result of intentional voter suppression or reckless disregard for election plans, and court costs are covered. I’m working hand in hand with my Democratic colleagues on the larger package of election reforms in the For the People Act, which will come to a vote soon. I’m introducing this bill, because going after long lines is a simple, popular and real change that everyone in Congress, regardless of party, should support. Simply put, no one should be shut out of the democratic process just because they don’t have hours to stand in line to vote.