California Senate Encourages Congress to Pass the LINE Act
Yee’s SJR 6 calls for federal action to streamline elections
SACRAMENTO – Today, the California State Senate approved legislation that calls upon Congress to set standards to assure all Americans can cast their ballot in a reasonable amount of time. Senator Leland Yee’s (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 6 calls on Congress to pass the Lines Interfere with National Elections Act of 2013, also known as the LINE Act introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California).
“In this past election, polling places in many states had unacceptably long wait times for voters due to insufficient staffing, obsolete voting machines, and unnecessary and undemocratic obstacles” said Yee. “There is no legitimate excuse in the United States of America to be unable to conduct an election efficiently and effectively.”
While other states are attempting to suppress the vote, California is finding new ways to increase participation in elections. Last year, California implemented online voter registration as a result of law authored by Yee in 2011. Nearly 800,000 Californians registered to vote on the new system in the five weeks between implementation and Election Day last year.
States such as Florida, Ohio and Virginia instituted new laws restricting voter eligibility which resulted in lines up to seven hours long to cast a ballot. It is estimated that more than 200,000 voters in Florida decided not to vote in November due to their frustration with long lines.
The LINE Act would require the United States Attorney General, in consultation with the Election Assistance Commission, to issue new standards for elections by January 1, 2014. These would set a minimum number of voting systems, poll workers, and other election resources needed on Election Day and during early voting periods to prevent a waiting time of more than one hour at any polling place.
A recent report by Professor Charles Stewart III of MIT found that while the average white voter waited for 12 minutes in order to vote, Latinos waited 19 minutes and African Americans had to wait for 23 minutes.
“It is a fundamental principle of our representative democracy that citizens shall not be required to overcome unreasonable obstacles in order to exercise their right to vote,” said Yee. “The LINE Act will establish a basic standard to protect this important right.”
This session, Yee is authoring SB 44 which would require every state website to link to the online registration system, as well as SB 240 which would require at least one polling place on every University of California and California State University campus.