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November 19, 2008: U.S. Representative Alcee L. Hastings Introduces Election Reform Bill to Reduce Long Lines at the Polls


Washington, DC - U.S. Representative Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) will today introduce the Critical Election Infrastructure Act of 2008, legislation authorizing $1 billion over the next four years to combat long lines at the polls and meet the needs of increasing numbers of voters.

"This bill is a critical and essential investment in our nation's democracy," said Representative Hastings. "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."

The Critical Election Infrastructure Act authorizes $250 million in federal spending in each of the next four years to states and local governments to upgrade, expand, and acquire more election equipment. Funding can also be used to hire and train more poll workers to work during early voting periods and on Election Day.

"Voting should not be a right granted only to those who can stand in line the longest or who can go the longest without food or a bathroom break," said Representative Hastings. "Voting is the sacred right of all eligible citizens. We have a solemn responsibility to ensure the greatest possible access to exercise that right and make that experience as comfortable and efficient as possible."

Representative Hastings has been a leader in election reform for years. Following the 2000 election, he was tapped by then-Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt to serve as Vice Chair of the Democratic Special Committee on Election Reform. He 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 throughout the country. Representative Hastings also led successful efforts last month to convince Florida Governor Charlie Crist to extend early voting hours in Florida to reduce lines at the polls.