Rules of the Houseby Former Representative George Miller
Posted on 2013-01-03
MILLER of California. I thank the gentlewoman for this
recognition, and I rise in favor of the motion to commit that I will be
offering with Mr. Clyburn and Mr. Lewis before the House later today so
that we can take a small, but very important, step to protect the right
of every American to vote.
I was appalled on this past election day by widespread reports across the country of voters forced to wait in hours-long lines simply to exercise one of our most fundamental rights--the right to vote. Even in some States with early voting, voters were forced to choose between waiting for hours or missing work or taking care of their children in order to cast their vote, or giving up their right to vote altogether.
At some precincts in Miami, hundreds of voters stood in line for over 4 hours, past the 7 o'clock closing time of the polls, even after President Obama had been declared the winner of the election. It offends our basic values that Americans would be denied the right to vote because of a last-minute illness or change in the work schedule, the need to pick up a child from school, or some other unavoidable emergency, meaning that they could not afford to wait in line for several hours simply to exercise that right.
The motion to commit in the House will make two important changes. First, it will require in Federal elections that every State provide for at least 15 days' early voting; and, two, it would require the State to provide adequate resources, staff, and machines at polling places in Federal elections to ensure that voters are not forced to wait in line for more than an hour.
There are numerous changes that need to be made to adequately protect the rights of all Americans to their right to vote, and I support the comprehensive approach to voter protections that has been developed by Mr. Lewis and Mr. Clyburn. However, today we have a chance to take a very simple step to make sure that voting is simple for Americans so they can exercise their right, a right that we broadcast to the rest of the world about how we choose our leaders and how we exercise our democracy. But that right and that democracy is now being thwarted by efforts at the local and State levels to make voting more difficult, to prohibit people from voting. We can change all of that in the motion to commit today in this rules package, and I would urge my colleagues to support that.
I want to thank Mr. Clyburn and Mr. Lewis for their leadership. I'm very sorry that Mr. Lewis is unable to be here today with the untimely death of his wife, Lillian.