Langevin-Connolly Reintroduce FAST Voting Act

Today, 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. “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 Those voters who did make it to the polls relied on outdated voting equipment.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.

Similar legislation was offered in the House and Senate in 2013.