Coons' election-reform bill incentivizes states to help non-English-speaking voters

Coons said that because it is not an election year, it should be easier for Congress to act on election reforms. His bill would create federal grants for states that improve access to the polls in at least nine ways, including assisting voters who don't speak English, allowing early voting at least nine days before an election, having no-excuse absentee voting and reducing waiting times at polling stations.

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“All over the country, in red states and blue states, Americans saw their fundamental right to vote eroded by exceptionally long lines, confusing rules and voting machine malfunctions,” Coons said Wednesday. “We have to do better than this. The FAST Voting Act is a creative way to jumpstart states’ election reform efforts and ensure that what happened last week doesn’t happen again.”

Coons pointed to voting problems that occurred in several states, including Ohio, Virginia and Florida, in the 2012 elections where some voters stood in line for up to seven hours in order to cast their ballots.

“It is an embarrassment that in 2012 our nation couldn’t overcome the simple challenges of fair elections,” Coons said. “Our democracy needs to be a model for the rest of the world to ensure that ever citizen gets to exercise their right to vote.”

Democratic Sens. Mark Warner (Va.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) are co-sponsoring Coons’s bill.

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