HAVA Annual Report 2003–2004
The Help America Vote Act – A Report to Congress, the President, and the National Council on Disability
III. Training and Technical Assistance to Assist Protection and Advocacy Systems to Establish or Improve Voting Access for Individuals With Disabilities:
Section 291 of the Help America Vote Act establishes a training and technical assistance discretionary grant program funded by setting aside 7 percent of the amount appropriated for State Protection and Advocacy Systems. Grants awarded under this authority must be used only for training and technical assistance to P&As in their promotion of self-sufficiency and protection of the rights of individuals with disabilities as this affects the establishment or improvement of access to full participation in the voting process.
Grants awarded under this program support activities such as developing proficiency in the use of voting systems and technologies as this affects individuals with disabilities; demonstrating and evaluating the use of such systems and technologies by individuals with disabilities; and providing training and technical assistance for non-visual access to voting will be supported and enhanced by the grantee.
Recipients of funding under this grant authority have to demonstrate that activities supported with grant funds will assist P&As across the nation. At least one recipient of this funding must use the payment to provide training and technical assistance for nonvisual access.
In FY 2003, two grants were awarded for a total amount of $140,000. In FY 2004, three grants were awarded for a total amount of $347,935.
Examples of activities carried out by award recipients of the HAVA Training and Technical Assistance to Assist P&A’s grant are listed below.
The National Association of Protection and Advocacy System (which was renamed to the National Disability Rights Network):
- Convened a ten member working group representing the geographic and ethnic diversity of the P&A network to assess the ongoing technical assistance needs of the network;
- Responded to numerous specific requests for technical assistance with a 24 hour turnaround time;
- Held a post-2004 election teleconference with approximately 45 P&A staff participating;
- Created and disseminated a Voter Bill of Rights for individuals with mental disabilities;
- Formulated a relationship with the Native America Vote Project; and
- Created an Election Day resource web page for voters with disabilities.
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB):
- Provided testimony at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) at a hearing in September 2004, concerning accessible features on voting machines;
- Gave weekly tours of the National Center on Nonvisual Election Technology; and
- Routinely accepted referrals from NAPAS of groups or individuals that had questions regarding accessible voting systems.
- The National Technical Assistance Center on Voting and Cognitive Access participated in numerous conferences and workshops by providing information regarding issues faced by voters with cognitive disabilities.
Recipients of the HAVA Training and Technical Assistance awards have collaborated to assure that the varied information available is widely disseminated. Some examples of this collaboration are: the inclusion of NFB experts on blindness and visual impairment in training events sponsored by NAPAS; NAPAS formally collaborates with the National Technical Assistance Center for Voting and Cognitive Access (NTAC) to assist the P&As in their efforts to improve voting access for citizens with cognitive disabilities. NAPAS also assists in circulating to the P&As self advocacy materials created by NTAC. NAPAS’s legal staff assists NTAC in order to ensure that their materials accurately reflect the law and the rights of voters. NAPAS also provided technical assistance to NTAC to help its staff understand the needs of the P&As and worked to enhance their ability to meet the P&A’s needs.
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 has spawned an election reform movement that includes the establishment of a program to provide funds to States to replace antiquated voting systems, the formation of the Election Assistance Commission to assist in the administration of Federal elections, and the establishment of programs that provide funds to States and Territories specifically for the establishment or improvement of accessibility to all aspects of the voting process. In addition, our nation’s Protection and Advocacy Systems receive funds to provide added assurance that voting is accessible to all, despite the presence of a physical, intellectual, or “hidden” disability. Information gleaned from narrative reports submitted thus far indicates that the States are at varied stages of making progress towards a fully accessible voting system. The HAVA funds that are discussed in this report have enabled election officials to advance the process that will assure full civil rights to all voters with disabilities.