Congressman Gerry Connolly Enewsletter
 
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Dear Neighbor,

Access to the ballot is fundamental to American democracy. In recent years, however, several states have taken action to restrict the franchise under the guise of preventing “voter fraud." Let me be clear: America doesn’t have a voter fraud problem; we have a participation problem.  

Voter turnout in the United States remains extremely low when compared with other established democracies, placing the country 31st among the 35 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. For example, in the 2016 election, only 59 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot for president. Those voters who did make it to the polls relied on outdated voting equipment. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 43 states used equipment more than a decade old. This led to equipment breakdown and long lines.

Here in Northern Virginia, we are not immune to these challenges. In 2012, for example, many voters had to wait several hours to cast their ballot. Instead of erecting barriers, we should be looking for innovative ways to expand the franchise and streamline the voting process.

Last week, I introduced the FAST Voting Act, which aims to improve voter participation, encourage automatic voter registration and enhance voting system security. Based on the Department of Education’s successful Race to the Top program, the FAST Voting Act would allow states to apply for funding to implement innovative policy changes designed to increase voter access and voting system security. Rather than prescribe strict, universal policy proposals, the legislation offers states flexibility to implement individualized reforms. Applicants would compete for grants based on evidence of previous reforms and implementation plans for further innovations. In addition, any state that is interested in implementing an automatic voter registration provision would qualify for grant funding.

When it comes to increasing voter participation, we can do better. The FAST Voting Act is an important step and down payment in guaranteeing that every American is able to exercise his or her fundamental right to vote.

Sincerely,



Gerry Connolly
Member of Congress
11th District of Virginia
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2238 Rayburn HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
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