The Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely (FAST) Voting Act of 2012
Creating a competitive grant program to encourage states to speed much-needed election reforms
U.S. Senator Chris Coons
"I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time. By the way, we have to fix that." - President Barack Obama
The 2012 election was a wake-up call for the American electorate, with tens of thousands of Americans finding it far too difficult to exercise their fundamental right as U.S. citizens to cast a ballot. These difficulties were experienced by Republicans and Democrats alike and in “red states” and “blue states” across the country.
Unusually long lines and voting-machine problems were reported in well over a dozen states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Virginia, South Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, Hawaii, Arizona, Rhode Island and more.
The Louis L. Redding Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely (FAST) Voting Act of 2012 confronts these problems by challenging states to turn around their poorest performing polling places. The FAST Voting Act of 2012 draws on the successful Race to the Top education reform program to reward states that make substantial improvements in the administration of their elections to make voting faster and more accessible to all voters.
The program tasks applicant states with creating a comprehensive and coherent plan to improve their election processes by:
- Providing flexible registration opportunities, including same-day registration;
- Providing early voting, at a minimum of 9 of the 10 calendar days preceding an election;
- Providing absentee voting, including no-excuse absentee voting;
- Providing assistance to voters who do not speak English as a primary language;
- Providing assistance to voters with disabilities, including visual impairment;
- Providing effective access to voting for members of the armed services;
- Providing formal training of election officials, including State and county administrators and volunteers;
- Auditing and reducing waiting times at the poorest performing polling stations; and
- Creating contingency plans for voting in the event of a natural or other disaster.
The program also requires an assessment of steps the state has taken to eliminate statutory, regulatory, procedural and other barriers to expedited voting and accessible voter registration.
The bill is named for Louis L. Redding, a prominent civil rights advocate who became the first African American to be admitted to the Delaware bar in 1929. He challenged school segregation in court and was part of the legal team that challenged Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court.