GAO asked to investigate why voters waited hours to cast ballots

People stand in line at Yorktown High School before casting their votes in the U.S. presidential race, on Nov. 6, 2012, in Arlington, Va. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Two members of Congress have asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate why voters in Virginia and Florida had to wait hours in line to cast their ballots on Election Day 2012.

Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Gerry Connolly of Virginia, both Democrats, made the request in a letter to the government’s investigative arm.

“… we request that GAO conduct a study of the underlying causes contributing to long lines on Election Day, including evaluating laws that impact voting rights and election administration. This study will 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.”

Connolly wants the issue addressed before the next election.

“When I saw people waiting as long as five hours to vote in some precincts in my district, you know, it really struck me how inequitable that is,” says Connolly.

“I’m not going let go of this issue,” he says.

Connolly and Cummings want the GAO to find out what information local jurisdictions collected on waiting times, what factors contributed to the waiting lines and what governments have successfully done to reduce wait times.

Connolly also has introduced a bill to help states provide more voting machines and training for poll workers as well as early voting expansion. He’s hoping a GAO study will back up those reforms.

Connolly says he hopes the GAO “will confirm that indeed there were extraordinary problems that have no excuse” and that a series of reforms will be identified.

WTOP’s Hank Silverberg contributed to this report. Follow @hsilverbergWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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