H.R. 6591 (112th): SIMPLE Voting Act

112th Congress, 2011–2013. Text as of Nov 15, 2012 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

I

112th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 6591

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

November 15, 2012

(for himself, Mr. Lewis of Georgia, Mr. Brady of Pennsylvania, Mr. Conyers, Ms. Fudge, Mr. Blumenauer, Ms. Bonamici, Mrs. Capps, Ms. Castor of Florida, Mr. Cleaver, Mr. Costa, Mr. Cummings, Mr. Davis of Illinois, Ms. DeLauro, Ms. Eshoo, Mr. Faleomavaega, Mr. Farr, Mr. Filner, Mr. Garamendi, Mr. Gonzalez, Mr. Al Green of Texas, Mr. Grijalva, Ms. Hahn, Mr. Honda, Mr. Johnson of Georgia, Mr. Kildee, Mr. Larsen of Washington, Mr. Larson of Connecticut, Ms. Lee of California, Ms. Zoe Lofgren of California, Ms. Matsui, Mr. McDermott, Mr. McGovern, Ms. Moore, Mrs. Napolitano, Ms. Norton, Mr. Peters, Ms. Pingree of Maine, Mr. Polis, Mr. Rangel, Mr. Rothman of New Jersey, Ms. Roybal-Allard, Mr. Ryan of Ohio, Ms. Loretta Sanchez of California, Mr. Sarbanes, Ms. Schwartz, Mr. Scott of Virginia, Mr. Smith of Washington, Mr. Stark, Mr. Van Hollen, Mr. Waxman, Mr. Welch, Mr. Luján, Mr. Hastings of Florida, Ms. DeGette, Mr. Cohen, Ms. Schakowsky, Mr. Serrano, Mr. Tonko, Mr. Himes, and Mr. Dingell) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on House Administration

A BILL

To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require States to establish a minimum period of 15 days for early voting prior to the date of an 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.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Streamlined and Improved Methods at Polling Locations and Early Voting Act or the SIMPLE Voting Act.

2.

Minimum requirements for early voting and for reducing waiting times for voters in federal elections

(a)

Requirements for States

Subtitle A of title III of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 15481 et seq.) is amended—

(1)

by redesignating sections 304 and 305 as sections 306 and 307; and

(2)

by inserting after section 303 the following new sections:

304.

Early voting

(a)

In general

Each State shall allow individuals to vote in an election for Federal office on each day occurring during the 15-day period which ends 2 days before the date of the election, in the same manner as voting is allowed on such day.

(b)

Minimum early voting requirements

Each polling place which allows voting prior to the date of a Federal election pursuant to subsection (a) shall—

(1)

allow such voting for not less than 10 hours on each day; and

(2)

have uniform hours each day for which such voting occurs.

(c)

Location of polling places near public transportation

To the greatest extent practicable, a State shall ensure that each polling place which allows voting prior to the date of a Federal election pursuant to subsection (a) is located within reasonable walking distance of a stop on a public transportation route.

(d)

Standards

(1)

In general

The Commission shall issue standards for the administration of voting prior to the date scheduled for a Federal election. Such standards shall include the nondiscriminatory geographic placement of polling places at which such voting occurs.

(2)

Deviation

The standards described in paragraph (1) shall permit States, upon providing adequate public notice, to deviate from any requirement in the case of unforeseen circumstances such as a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or a change in voter turnout.

(e)

Effective date

This section shall apply with respect to elections held on or after January 1, 2014.

305.

Preventing unreasonable waiting times for voters

(a)

Preventing unreasonable waiting times

(1)

In general

Each State shall provide a sufficient number of voting systems, poll workers, and other election resources (including physical resources) at a polling place used in any election for Federal office, including a polling place at which individuals may cast ballots prior to the date of the election, to ensure—

(A)

a fair and equitable waiting time for all voters in the State; and

(B)

that no individual will be required to wait longer than one hour to cast a ballot at the polling place.

(2)

Criteria

In determining the number of voting systems, poll workers, and other election resources provided at a polling place for purposes of paragraph (1), the State shall take into account the following factors:

(A)

The voting age population.

(B)

Voter turnout in past elections.

(C)

The number of voters registered.

(D)

The number of voters who have registered since the most recent Federal election.

(E)

Census data for the population served by such voting site, such as the proportion of the voting-age population who are under 25 years of age or who are naturalized citizens.

(F)

The educational levels and socio-economic factors of the population served by such voting site.

(G)

The needs and numbers of voters with disabilities and voters with limited English proficiency.

(H)

The type of voting systems used.

(I)

The length and complexity of initiatives, referenda, and other questions on the ballot.

(J)

Such other factors as the State considers appropriate.

(3)

Guidelines

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this section, the Commission shall establish and publish guidelines to assist States in meeting the requirements of this subsection.

(4)

Rule of construction

Nothing in this subsection may be construed to authorize a State to meet the requirements of this subsection by closing any polling place, prohibiting an individual from entering a line at a polling place, or refusing to permit an individual who has arrived at a polling place prior to closing time from voting at the polling place.

(b)

Development and implementation of contingency plans

(1)

In general

Each State shall develop, and implement to the greatest extent practicable, a contingency plan under which the State shall provide additional poll workers, machines, ballots, and other equipment and supplies (as the case may be) on the date of the election to any polling place used in an election for Federal office, including a polling place at which individuals may cast ballots prior to the date of the election, at which waiting times exceed one hour.

(2)

Approval of plan by Commission

The State shall ensure that the contingency plan developed under paragraph (1) is approved by the Commission prior to the date of the election involved, in accordance with such procedures as the Commission may establish.

(c)

Effective date

This section shall apply with respect to elections held on or after January 1, 2014.

.

(b)

Conforming amendment relating to enforcement

Section 401 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15511) is amended by striking sections 301, 302, and 303 and inserting subtitle A of title III.

(c)

Clerical amendment

The table of contents of such Act is amended—

(1)

by redesignating the items relating to sections 304 and 305 as relating to sections 306 and 307; and

(2)

by inserting after the item relating to section 303 the following new items:

Sec. 304. Early voting.

Sec. 305. Preventing unreasonable waiting times for voters.

.

3.

No effect on authority of state to provide for longer periods of early voting or greater amount of resources at polling places

Nothing in this Act or in any amendment made by this Act may be construed to prohibit a State, with respect to any election for Federal office—

(1)

from providing (in an equitable and nondiscriminatory manner) a longer period for early voting than the minimum period required under section 304 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (as added by section 2(a)); or

(2)

from providing (in an equitable and nondiscriminatory manner) a greater number of systems, poll workers, and other election resources at any polling place than the minimum number required under section 305 of such Act (as added by section 2(a)).