Political Animal


December 12, 2012 9:59 AM New Voting Rights Struggle?

By Ed Kilgore

Even as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares for what may be a fatal blow aimed at the enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, there is a-stirring new sentiment for finally moving to make routine voter suppression efforts typically aimed at the intended beneficiaries of the 1965 Act violations of federal law. Sen. Barbara Boxer has introduced legislation requiring states to comply with minimum national election standards:

The LINE Act (or the Lines Interfere with National Elections Act) would require the Attorney General, in consultation with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), to issue new national standards by January 1, 2014 regarding the minimum number of voting machines, election workers, and other election resources that are necessary to conduct Federal elections on Election Day and during early voting periods. The bill explicitly states that the goal of minimum standards is to prevent a waiting time of more than one hour at any polling place.
Senator Boxer’s bill also would require states where voters endured long lines to implement remedial plans to fix the problems before the next federal election. Under the legislation, the Attorney General working with the EAC would identify states that had a substantial number of voters who waited more than 90 minutes to vote in the 2012 election. Those states would have to comply with a remedial plan to ensure voters would not face similar delays in the future.

We’ll hear whining from many states that they just can afford to run competent elections, and complaining from Republicans that more voting means more “fraud.” And most of all, we’ll see indifference as this issue once again fades with memories of the latest election.

But there’s some hope insofar as President Obama promised to “fix that” on Election Night, a pledge his Attorney General seemed to be reinforcing, if somewhat vaguely, in a speech last night at the JFK Presidential Library.

Indeed, an assault on old voting rights laws could provide fresh impetus for new ones. At a minimum, such a shock might finally convince the MSM and even progressive media that this isn’t some boring process issue.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Carlos on December 12, 2012 10:21 AM:

    Is Election Day a federal holiday in the United States? It should be.

  • Gndalf on December 12, 2012 10:26 AM:

    How about a mandate that says every employee is to receive a half a day off on election day once a year. That way not every business would have to close down and accomodations could be made to stay open normal hours of operation.

  • c u n d gulag on December 12, 2012 10:35 AM:

    How can anyone 'shock the MSM' when all the MSM does is either interview the same old "safe" Villager men and women, or one another.

    "Next up on Cup O' Schmoe, Mike Barnickle, David Gergen, and Peggy Noonan will discuss voter fraud and the Republicans efforts to stop it. And after that, we'll be joined by David Gregory, and that sage, seer, and magical mystic of the Beltway, Luke Russert! And then, Newt Gingrich will join our merry band.
    This morning's round-table is brought to you by Starfeck's coffee - because that last $10's in your pocket shouldn't go to spoiling your children, not when you can spoil yourself with our new MochaChocaLattaToffeeCremeBruleeEspressoSoyMilkInfused cup o' supre-joe, for only $9.99!"

    It's a miracle they still let Paul Krugman on ABC's show, with George Vowel-a-lot-a-lous, a perpetually clue-free George Will, and Mary Matlin, who has obviously found the key to Peggy Noonan's liquor cabinet, so she's almost as soused on the Sunday bloviations fests, as "Ol' Pig-'o'no-one's heart" Nooners herself.

  • cmdicely on December 12, 2012 10:44 AM:

    This post desperately needs some attention. The part before the blockquote reads as if it is characterizing Boxer's legislation as an effort to advance voter suppression efforts, and the first sentence after the blockquote seems to use "can" in place of "can't".