Three congressional Democrats asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Thursday to study the "underlying causes" that forced voters to wait in long lines at polling places around the country on Election Day last year.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia and Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida said the GAO study would help "inform both federal and state policymakers about the types of reforms that will most effectively reduce long waiting times and ensure that all Americans obtain equal access to the ballot box." They specifically asked the GAO to examine Virginia and Florida as cases studies.
“No eligible voter should have to wait for hours to carry out their Constitutional right to cast a ballot on Election Day,” Cummings said in a statement. “Long poll lines disproportionately affect working class and elderly voters who simply cannot physically endure these delays. This study will help inform policymakers at both the federal and state levels about the types of reforms that will most effectively reduce long waiting times and ensure equal access to the ballot box.”
The letter asked the GAO to answer these questions in a report:
1. To what extent did local election jurisdictions encounter long voter waiting times during the 2012 general election, and what information did they collect on voter waiting times?
2. What do state and local election officials and available research identify as the most significant factors that contributed to extended waiting times?
3. What successful actions have federal, state, and local governments taken to reduce waiting times, and what do they and other stakeholders identify as the most beneficial practices to achieve this goal?
Seto Bagdoyan, a legislative advisor in GAO's Office of Congressional Relations, told HuffPost, "Work will begin as soon as staff are available, and we'll process it accordingly."