[Image courtesy of ivn.us]
It’s no secret that Congress is somewhat divided on the topic of election policy – with disputes over voter ID, proof of citizenship and the fate of the Election Assistance Commission – but it appears that members are willing to address one issue that has sparked nearly-unanimous support across the nation: “I Voted” stickers.
Later today, both the Senate Rules Committee and the Committee on House Administration are expected to endorse companion versions of the Increasing Voter Outreach to Expand Democracy (IVOTED) Act, which will require states and localities to have enough “I Voted” stickers for 100% of registered voters in every federal election. The bill would also repeal federal laws against Election Day giveaways like free coffee and ice cream for voters wearing the new stickers and make such giveaways tax-deductible for participating businesses.
In response to concerns from election officials about the costs associated with such a plan, the bill would transfer $178.9M (in a nod to the first federal election year) from the funds authorized but not appropriated for the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and make it available to states for this purpose.
A spokesperson for Senator Joseph Paine said that the IVOTED Act was drafted in response to the report prepared by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, noting that while “I Voted” stickers are not mentioned in the report, members and staff believed that voter excitement about a guarantee of stickers would both increase turnout and make lines move more quickly at the polls.
A press release from the office of Representative Bob Roberts noted that the requirement to purchase the stickers will go into effect for the 2014 general election whether or not funding has been appropriated in time, but noted that: “the history of enactments in this field like HAVA have demonstrated that election officials can rest assured that Congress will ultimately honor its commitments.”
Sources close to the DOJ have indicated that voting section attorneys will be watching closely and will make compliance with IVOTED requirements a key consideration in enforcement decisions under the Voting Rights Act.
When reached, UC-Irvine law professor Rick Hasen – a longtime “I Voted” skeptic and critic of Election Day giveaways – had no comment other than muffled sobs.
The bill is expected to pass both houses by July 4th, along with bills to abolish the designated hitter and require Coke Zero at every soda fountain nationwide.
In case it isn’t obvious – April Fools 🙂