October 20, 2005

TO:
  Members of the U.S. Senate
RE:
  Make Election Reform a Reality: Fully Fund the “Help America Vote Act”

We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to support full funding for the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) and include $727 million in the Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act of 2006. This figure represents the authorized HAVA funds for federal requirements that remain unappropriated.

HAVA, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, includes an important list of reforms that states must implement for federal elections. State and local governments have been working on such reforms as improving disability access to polling places, updating voting equipment, implementing new provisional balloting procedures, developing and implementing a new statewide voter registration database system, training poll workers and educating voters on new procedures and new equipment.

To help state and local governments pay for these reforms, HAVA authorized $3.9 billion over three fiscal years. To date, Congress has generously appropriated $3 billion between FY03 and FY04. Unfortunately, while HAVA authorized funding for states for FY05, none was appropriated. The states and localities need the remaining authorized funding to implement the requirements of HAVA, and the federal EAC needs to be fully funded to carry out its responsibilities as well.

States and localities are laboring to implement the requirements of HAVA based on a federal commitment that HAVA would not be an unfunded mandate. State officials have incorporated the federal amounts Congress promised when developing their HAVA implementation budgets and plans. Without the full federal funding, state and local governments will encounter serious fiscal shortfalls and will not be able to afford complete implementation of important HAVA mandates. According to a state survey, lack of federal funding for HAVA implementation will result in many states scaling back their voter and poll worker education initiatives and on voting equipment purchase plans, both of which are vital components to making every vote count in America.

We are thankful that you have seen the importance of funding the work of the Election Assistance Commission in FY06. States, localities and civic organizations look forward to the work products from the EAC that will aid them in their implementation of HAVA i.e., the voting system standards, the statewide database guidance, and the studies on provisional voting, voter education, poll worker training, and voter fraud and voter intimidation.

We thank you for your support of funding for the Help America Vote Act, and we look forward to working with you on this critical issue. Should you have any questions, please contact Leslie Reynolds of the National Association of Secretaries of State at (202)624-3525 or Rob Randhava of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights at (202) 466-6058, or any of the individual organizations listed below.

Sincerely,

Organizations Representing State and Local Election Officials

Council of State Governments
Election Center
International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers
National Association of Counties
National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund
National Association of Secretaries of State
National Conference of State Legislatures

Civil and Disability Rights Organizations

Alliance for Retired Americans
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial Organizations
Americans for Democratic Action
APIA Vote
Asian American Justice Center
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Common Cause
FairVote - The Center for Voting and Democracy
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
League of Women Voters of the United States
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Council of La Raza
National Disability Rights Network
National Federation of the Blind
National Voting Rights Institute
Project Vote
The Arc of the United States
United Cerebral Palsy
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
USAction