Senate Democrats Introduce Bill to Eliminate Voting Lines Longer Than 30 Minutes

June 18, 2021 Updated: June 18, 2021

Two Senate Democrats introduced a measure that would seek to ensure that voters don’t have to wait more than 30 minutes at polling locations.

The proposed “People Over Long Lines Act,” or POLL, introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), would mandate the Election Assistance Commission to conduct audits to see how long voters have to wait in line to cast their ballot. Some $500 million would be included to help states deal with long lines, according to the senators.

“No one should be shut out of the democratic process just because they can’t spend hours waiting in lines to cast a ballot,” Wyden said in a statement on Thursday. ”Making voting accessible and convenient shouldn’t be a partisan issue. I have never heard Oregonians, Democrats or Republicans, tell me they long for the days where voting took longer. It’s time to pass the POLL Act and put an end to unreasonable lines in every state.”

The two Democrats noted that there were reports of “hours-long lines” in Mississippi, Georgia, and several other states during the 2020 election. They also pointed to studies that revealed about 3 million voters waited more than 30 minutes before voting during the 2018 midterm elections.

And citing another study, the two said “that more than 500,000 Americans” couldn’t vote because of the long wait times.

Merkley, in a news release, went a step further and alleged that lines are “a long-standing tool used to prevent citizens from voting” in a bid to “manipulate elections.”

“Like nearly every voter suppression strategy in American history,” he added, “it’s directed six times as often at people of color.”

Merkley did not provide specific evidence for those claims, and The Epoch Times has reached out to the senator’s office for comment.

“Nobody should have to spend hours out in the weather, when they might need to get to work or pick up their kids, to exercise their constitutional rights,” he said. “If we believe in the freedom to vote and democracy, let’s make sure staffing and equipment are distributed equitably so nobody has to wait more than 30 minutes to vote.”

The bill would also create the ability for voters to claim $50 if they wait for longer than 30 minutes. An additional $50 will be provided for the voter for every hour they have to wait after that, according to the text of the bill.

It comes as Democrats and Republicans in the Senate grapple over the sweeping Democrat-backed “For the People Act,” which was passed in the House in March along mostly partisan lines. Senate Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have opposed the bill, which is all but unlikely to pass barring the elimination of the filibuster.