Adam Cohen: How we can reform our elections

Recommended by Nathan Sorensen

Published: Monday, Nov. 12 2012 3:50 p.m. MST

Voters cast their ballots in a polling station set inside the Latin American Motorcycle Association Hall in Chicago, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.

Jerome Delay, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Enlarge photo»

Our Take: It was not unheard of for voters in this election cycle to be standing in line for up to nine hours to get in a voting booth. Even worse, many voters reportedly received automated phone calls announcing the election to be postponed or being told that they may choose to vote over the phone. According to Adam Cohen, contributor to Time and teacher at Yale Law School, Americas voters deserve better — America needs a Voters Bill of Rights.

One of the iconic images of the 2012 presidential election was also one of the most disturbing: voters waiting in line as long as nine hours to cast their ballot. Simple fact: if you have to pack both lunch and dinner before you go to the polling place, there is something seriously wrong with your democracy.

It was not just the lines. Many states enacted overly onerous voter ID laws that kept World War II veterans and elderly nuns from voting. Then there were the dirty tricks: robo-calls telling people the election had been postponed until Wednesday and reports of voters being called and told that they can vote over the phone.

It is time for the nation to pass a tough federal Voters Bill of Rights. There is a lot of attention for good reason to high-profile causes like campaign finance reform and putting an end to partisan gerrymandering. But as last weeks election showed, there is an urgent need to focus more on the simple mechanics of running elections.

Read more about How we can reform our elections on TIME.

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