Monday, November 19, 2012

Election Reform in Congress

In the wake of the 2012 election, members introduced several measures to facilitate quick and easy voting, to establish a period for early voting, to establish penalties for interfering with voting, and to make voting easier for overseas military:

  • H.R. 6591 and S. 3635, the Fair, Accurate, Secure, and Timely (FAST) Voting Act of 2012, which provides financial incentives to states to invest in practices and technologies that are designed to expedite voting at the polls and to simplify registration.
  • H.R. 6591, the SIMPLE Voting Act, which amends the Help America Vote Act of 2012 to require states to establish a minimum period of 15 days for early voting prior to the date of election for federal office and to ensure that no individual will be required to wait for longer than one hour to cast a ballot at a polling place in an election for federal office.
  • H.R. 6593, the Voter Fraud Prevention Act of 2012, which amends the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to increase the penalties for intimidating, threatening, or coercing any person from engaging in voter registration or for procuring, submitting, or casting false voter registration applications or ballots, and to require election officials to transmit balloting materials to absent members of the military using the automated tagging and tracing services of the Postal Service.
  • H.R. 6594, the Military Ballot Integrity Act of 2012, which requires states that fail to transmit valid requested absentee ballots in an election for federal office to absent members of the military within a specified deadline to delay certifying the election results, and to provide a private right of action to enforce that requirement.

In addition, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) introduced H.J. Res. 121, proposing a constitutional amendment that would grant 29 extra votes in the electoral college to the winner of the national popular vote.  Why 29?  It's the average of the state with the most votes (California, at 55) and the states and D.C. with the least (3).  According to HuffPo, it would encourage candidates to spend more time campaigning in states where they already have a lock, in order to ensure a popular vote victory to get the extra 29.  Here's Rep. Israel's explanation.  Section 1 reads:

In an election for President and Vice President, after the popular vote has been counted and electors have been appointed in each of the several States and the District constituting the seat of Government of the United States, each State and the District shall report the total number of popular votes cast for each of the candidates.  The candidate receiving the largest percentage of the total popular vote as reported by the several States and the District shall receive 29 electoral votes in addition to those cast by the Electors chosen by the several States and the District.  These votes shall not be considered votes cast by Electors and shall not affect the total number of votes necessary to constitute a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed.

SDS

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