Electors with disabilities
Help America Vote Act (HAVA)
Help America Vote Act (HAVA)
Q1. What is the Help America Vote Act?
A1. Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in October 2002 making sweeping reforms to the nation's voting process. The Act addressed much needed improvements to voting systems and voter access that were identified following the 2000 Presidential Election. It includes provisions for replacement of punchcard and lever voting systems, creation of a centralized voter registration database, new voter identification requirements, access for people with disabilities, and enhanced voter outreach.
Q2. What does the Act require?
A2. There are two main components to HAVA: (1) overall improvements to elections administration, which can be done at the discretion of each state as funding allows and (2) specific mandates set forth in HAVA. Under HAVA, the State of Colorado is required to:
Provide voters with information on the effect of overvoting, how to correct their ballots and how to request a replacement ballot.
Have voting systems that produce a permanent paper record with manual audit capacity.
Provide at least one accessible Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting system per polling place in the state to provide enhanced access to the voting process for people with disabilities.
Comply with the Federal Election Commission's standards for voting equipment error rates.
Define uniform and nondiscriminatory standards for what constitutes a vote.
Provide a process for allowing voters to cast provisional ballots.
Establish a toll-free line allowing voters who have cast provisional ballots to check to see whether their vote was counted or not, and if not counted, why not.
Implement by January 1, 2006 a "uniform, official, centralized, interactive, computerized statewide voter registration list" that is defined, maintained, and administered at the state level.
Implement new identification requirements for first-time voters who register by mail (requires voters to submit copies of a valid photo ID, current utility bill, bank statement, or government document with their registration form or their ballot).
Q3. How much funding was made available to help states meet the requirements?
A3. The Act allowed separate federal appropriations for specific purposes. The first source, "early out" funding, was provided for replacement of punchcard and lever voting systems and for making discretionary improvements to the elections process. These funds required no state matching funds. The second and largest source of funding was titled a “requirements payment” to help states meet the mandates of HAVA. States were required to provide five percent matching funds in order to receive their requirements payment. Prior to receiving funding, states had to submit a written plan outlining the activities they planned to undertake to comply with HAVA, as well as how they planned to spend the federal funds appropriated to them. A third source of funding was appropriated through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) via grants to states specifically for disability access improvements.
The total amount actually received by Colorado and other states was approximately 20 percent less than the law appropriated. Colorado’s apportioned amount (excluding accessibility grants) was $41,582,761. It is not expected that any additional funds will be forthcoming.
Q4. How has Colorado used, or how will it use, the money it received?
A4. States are required to meet the mandates of HAVA whether or not full federal funding is provided. So congressional staff members urged states to use the "early out" discretionary funds to meet the requirements placed on the state and counties by the new law. Colorado intends to fund discretionary improvements only after the HAVA requirements have been met. The following activities will be funded initially:
Replacement of punch card voting systems
Purchase of accessible DREs for polling places in the state
Colorado centralized voter registration system
Voter education and elections staff training on Title III requirements (includes a statewide toll-free line)
Q5. What are the financial responsibilities of the state and the counties?
A5. The state has been paying the costs of each of the four activities listed above using the available federal funding and the State’s match (approximately $1.7 million). The state will be responsible for the cost of maintaining the centralized voter registration system and the toll-free line and for the implementation of the HAVA requirements. Counties will be required to share in the costs of, and maintain the replacement of, their punchcard systems and to maintain and replace their accessible DREs after the initial purchase. Both the counties and the state have funded training activities, which have been conducted by the state. Since federal funding was less than expected to meet the mandates, it is possible the state may have to seek funding from other funding sources in the state.
Q6. What is Colorado doing to prepare to meet the federal requirements?
A6. Upon passage of the Act, the Secretary of State appointed a HAVA Steering Committee made up of county elections clerks, state elections division staff, legislators and various stakeholders of the elections process. The Steering Committee was responsible for recommending what should be included in the State Plan that had to be submitted to the federal government in order to receive requirements funding. The Secretary of State also introduced legislation that made all the necessary changes to Colorado Revised Statutes to allow compliance with HAVA.
Q7. How will Colorado's elections process change as a result of HAVA?
A7. The biggest changes as a result of HAVA are improved integrity of voter registration data through a centralized database and new identification requirements, enhanced access to the voting process by people with disabilities, and improved information and instructions that help voters understand how to cast a valid ballot, and how to get assistance in participating in the voting process.
Q8. Does HAVA require that we have voting equipment accessible for voters with disabilities?
A8. Yes. Under HAVA, each polling place must contain a voting system that is accessible for individuals with disabilities, including for visually impaired voters, in a manner that provides the same opportunity for accessibility and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters.
Will HAVA’s Alternative Voting Technology requirements affect all precincts in the state?
Not necessarily. Where more than one precinct’s voters cast their ballots at the same polling place, one piece of alternative voting technology can serve all voters at that polling place.
Q9. Why must we have new voting equipment for the blind when we have always had provisions for them to vote?
A9. Our existing procedures for visually impaired voters require them to tell another person how they wish to vote. HAVA requires that they be provided the same privacy, independence, and access in voting that is provided for “seeing” voters.
Q10. How will we be able to verify that the new equipment accurately recorded voters’ selections?
A10. As with existing voting equipment, accuracy testing will verify the ability of the voting equipment to accurately record and count ballots.
Q11. Will new voting equipment make it clear to me exactly who I voted for before I cast my vote?
A11. Yes. HAVA requires that any new voting equipment allow voters to verify their choices privately and independently before their ballots are cast and counted. Voting equipment certified for use in Colorado by the office of the Secretary of State will assure that vote choices are clear to voters when they verify their votes.