A new bill suggests that efficient voting process should be a national priority. Senators Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware) introduced The Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely (FAST) Voting Act of 2012, which would give federal grants to states that improve access to their polls. States would be judged based on several categories, including early voting and absentee ballot availability.
“The extremely long lines and wait times that many Virginia voters experienced at the polls this week were completely unacceptable,” Warner said via a statement. “The FAST Voting Act addresses this issue in a responsible way: it does not impose new mandates, and authorizes additional resources for those states which step up with common sense reforms to make voting faster and accessible to more voters.”
Still in the early phases, the source for grant funding was not identified in the bill’s announcement. The legislation would only authorize the government to reward states, but would not control how grants are dispersed.
“We’re not intending for this to be new money,” a spokesman for Coons said, according to ABC News.. “We want to make sure it comes out of existing funds. There’s still quite a bit of work to be done on that front.”
“We’re working with the Justice Deptartment to identify existing funds that might be used for this program,” Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Senator Warner, told ABC. “We figure it’ll be a relatively modest amount of money.”
Florida is one of the states in major need of election reform, as voters faced long lines on Election Day, with limited opportunities for early voting. Presidential votes cast in the state were still being counted four days after the polls closed. Even with the possibility for federal grant money, conservatives may look to oppose the bill which would create more spending at both the federal and state level.