Voting Rights Watch: Bill would spend $1 billion to cut wait times at polls

alcee_hastings.gifThe long lines that some voters across the South faced during the recent election have been called "the new poll tax" for their discouraging effect on voting. To help fix the problem, a Florida Congressman has introduced a bill that would spend $1 billion over the next four years on eliminating long lines by supplying more workers and voting machines.

The author of the Critical Election Infrastructure Act of 2008 is Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, a Democrat from Broward County, Fla., where early voters faced long waits in the recent election. Hastings said in a statement:
"Tens of thousands of my constituents were forced to stand in line for four, five, six hours, maybe even more. Local governments need more equipment and more people on the ground to handle the increasing number of voters participating in our democracy. This legislation is an opportunity to meet those needs."
Hastings is also the author of the Voter Outreach and Turnout Expansion (VOTE) Act, which would establish Election Day as a national holiday and allow for no-excuse absentee voting and same-day voter registration nationwide. During the recent election, he was part of an effort that successfully convinced Florida's Republican Gov. Charlie Crist to extend the state's early voting hours.