WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the People Over Long Lines (POLL) Act in the U.S. Senate on Thursday. The legislation would require state governments to ensure that no voter has to wait more than 30 minutes in order to vote. The 30-minute time limit was designated by the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration as the maximum acceptable time a voter should wait before being able to cast their ballot. Wait times at polling places across the country disproportionately impact low-income and minority voters and make it harder for many voters to cast a ballot during their work day.
In an exclusive piece for Democracy Docket, Wyden explains why the POLL Act is so important for expanding and equalizing access to the ballot. The bill would establish federal standards and oversight to ensure voters in all 50 states get equitable access and would earmark $500 million for states to help them reduce wait times. It would also allow individual voters to sue their state governments for excessive wait times, and receive financial compensation for being forced to wait in long lines.
“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,” writes Wyden. “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.”