On October 29, 2002, President Bush signed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) that was authored by Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd into law. The federal legislation created many new mandates for state and local governments and provided $3.9 billion in federal funding. To date, Congress has appropriated $3.1 billion in funding. Connecticut has received $32.7 million in federal funding that has been set aside for future electronic voting.
HAVA creates two significant types of payments to States:
Title I payments
Title I provides money to States to accomplish a variety of tasks such as election official training, poll worker training, and election volunteer training as well as money to improve the administration of elections and for the replacement of voting systems. Connecticut did not receive any Title I funding because it required a certification that the state would replace all of its lever voting machines by the November 2004 election.
Title III payments
Title III payments are made to States to assist them in complying with the provisions of the Help America Vote Act of 2002. The major requirements of the Act are the establishment of a provisional ballot system, additional identification requirements for first time mail-in registrants, completion of a centralized voter registration system, the purchase of new voting systems and additional informational postings at all polling locations.
HAVA creates an Election Assistance Commission at the Federal level that is responsible for advising election authorities and distributing federal "requirements payments" to the States under Title III. To be eligible for those funds, Connecticut filed its State Plan in the summer of 2003 that had the input of an Advisory Committee that included how the state will meet technology and election administration requirements; budget and monitor the funds it receives; adopt voting system guidelines consistent with the new federal requirements; educate voters and poll workers; adopt performance measures and meet other specified requirements and criteria.
Major Requirements of the Help America Vote Act
Requires New Voting Machines
Establishes new voting system standards for voting systems used in election for Federal Office. Effective January 1, 2006.
Such standards include:
1) access to individuals with disabilities,
2) permit the voter to verify votes before casting a ballot,
3) create a permanent paper record with a capacity for a manual audit.
Establishes a Centralized Voter Registration System
Requires states to establish a centralized voter registration system beginning January 1, 2004.
New Voter Registration Requirements
Requires first-time voters who register by mail to present identification either when registering or when voting in person or by absentee ballot. Identification includes: a valid photo identification or a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document that shows name and address of the voter.
Establishes Provisional Ballots
Establishes provisional voting beginning January 1, 2004. Persons who claim to be registered in a jurisdiction but are not on the official voter list, are otherwise alleged ineligible to vote or are required to present identification when they appear to vote shall be offered and permitted to cast a provisional ballot. The ballot shall be promptly verified and counted if determined to be valid under State law.
Polling Place Requirements
Requires that the following be posted in the polls on election day:
1) Sample ballot
2) Date of election and hours of polls
3) Instructions on how to vote
4) Instructions for mail-in voters and first time voters with new identification requirements
5) Voters bill of rights
6) Rights concerning provisional ballots
7) Information regarding state laws regarding voting fraud
Requires the States to Adopt an Administrative Complaint Process
Requires each state receiving funds under this Act to establish and maintain administrative procedures to receive, process, and act upon complaints about violations of this act by the state or local jurisdiction.
More information regarding the Help America Vote Act is available on the Web site maintained by the Election Assistance Commission at www.eac.gov.