HAVA Annual Report 2003–2004
The Help America Vote Act – A Report to Congress, the President, and the National Council on Disability
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 29, 2002. HAVA assigned responsibility for the administration of the law’s disability provisions (sections 261 and 291) to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, who further delegated the programs to the Administration on Developmental Disabilities within the Administration for Children and Families.
Information contained in this report reflects the requirements as set forth in Title II, Subtitle D, Part 2, Section 265 (b) of HAVA:
(b) Report by Secretary to Committees—With respect to each fiscal year for which the Secretary makes payments under this part, the Secretary shall submit a report on the activities carried out under this part to the Committee on House Administration of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Rules and Administration of the Senate.
Sections 261 and 291 of HAVA authorize the creation of federal grant programs that support efforts to ensure that persons with disabilities, including physical, developmental or other disabilities, also referenced as the full range of disabilities, have access to the election process.
Section 101 of HAVA also advises that Federal election sites must commit to “improving the accessibility and quantity of polling places, including providing non-visual access for individuals with visual impairments, and providing assistance to Native Americans, Alaska Native citizens, and to individuals with limited proficiency in the English language.”
To address these concerns, eligible States and Territories received payments administered by the Government Services Administration (GSA) subsequent to the enactment of HAVA to “ensure that all of the punch card voting systems or level voting systems in the qualifying precincts within that State will be replaced in time for the first election for Federal office held after January 2006.”
The HAVA grant awards administered by ADD in HHS, and by GSA, are designed to be utilized by States and Territories in making progress towards the goal of making polling places accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Beginning in Fiscal Year 2003, ADD has awarded 225 grants totaling approximately $30,000,000. The first grants authorized by HAVA and managed by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities were awarded between August and September 2003. The second year grants were awarded between April and May 2004. All grant monies are available until expended. The programs authorized at Sections 261 and 291 and managed by ADD are described in the following pages.
I. State Grants for Election Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities (EAID):
State Grants for Election Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities are authorized at Section 261 of the Help America Vote Act. Grants are distributed to States and Territories according to a formula based on the State or Territory’s relative size of the voting age population (the number of individuals 18 years of age or older as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau). Depending on the availability of appropriated funds, no State or Territory applying for funds receives a payment of less than $100,000.
These funds are for:
- Making polling places, including path of travel, entrances, exits, and voting areas of each polling facility, accessible to individuals with the full range of disabilities;
- Providing the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) to individuals with the full range of disabilities;
- Providing training for election officials, poll workers, and election volunteers on how best to promote the access and participation of individuals with the full range of disabilities in elections for Federal office; and
- Providing individuals with the full range of disabilities with information about the accessibility of polling places.
For FY 2003, a total of $13 million was disbursed in 55 grants ranging from $100,000 to $1,371,756. Awards were made to each State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. In Fiscal Year 2004, a total of $9,941,000 was disbursed among the States and Territories in amounts ranging from $100,000 to $985,955. State-by-State allotment tables for each fiscal year are covered in this report on page four.
Examples of activities carried out by the States and Territories with Section 261 funds are listed below.
- Arizona awarded grants to county partnerships to purchase accessible voting booths, clip-on lights, parking signs, ramps, door handle adapters, embosser and translation software, and audio voting materials.
- Washington, D.C., purchased electronic voting systems which provide an audio ballot for blind voters and enable voter independence and privacy.
- Georgia developed a statewide, uniform Poll Worker Training Guide which includes detailed guidelines for interacting with voters with a full range of disabilities, an address by a well known disability advocate, the production of a training video, and the involvement of local disability organizations in staff training and technical assistance.
- Puerto Rico improved instructions for blind voters using Braille, purchased equipment and software necessary to make voting materials in the election office library accessible to voters with a variety of disabilities, and equipped four mobile offices to provide voter registration opportunities and voting opportunities to those with disabilities who are hospitalized or home-bound and/or reside in remote areas.
- Mississippi contracted with the Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities to survey polling places using the U.S. Department of Justice ADA Checklist for Polling Places, with resulting information entered into a computerized data base resulting in an ability to have a comprehensive picture of accessibility needs.
- Connecticut, in collaboration with its Protection and Advocacy System, its Board of Education for Services of the Blind, and several national and local advocacy organizations conducted conferences and prepared written materials for local municipal officials and Registrars of Voters to educate them about polling place accessibility.
- Arkansas awarded grants to thirty-one localities for the purchase of: 57 sets of door handles, 74 accessibility signs, 25 accessible thresholds, 26 ramps, 29 accessible parking pads, 12 sets of handrails, 6 accessible doors, 26 accessible voting booths, and magnifying sheets.
- Kentucky awarded its HAVA Section 261 funds to the Kentucky Disabilities Coalition (KDC). The KDC provided an ADA approved “Disability Awareness Guidance” that was included in annual training materials for all poll workers, alternates, and certified challengers.
- Texas contracted with the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD) to develop and coordinate an interactive HAVA workshop for presentation at the annual conference of the State Independent Living Council to provide individuals with disabilities information on the accessibility of polling places.
- Hawaii worked collaboratively with the Disability and Communication Access Board (DCAB) to train county election clerks and State election officials on best practices for assisting voters with disabilities and to engage in informational outreach promoting the accessible features and use of the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting system selected by Hawaii to provide accessible voting.
- Minnesota, with the active involvement of the American Council of the Blind and the Minnesota State Council on Disabilities, developed the “2004 Election Judge Training Video Project”, a segment of which concentrates on assisting voters with disabilities.
|District of Columbia||100,000||100,000|
II. Protection and Advocacy Systems — Help America to Vote:
Formula grants are awarded to eligible Protection and Advocacy Systems in the States and Territories to empower, protect, and advocate on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities, as authorized and defined in the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000. The Help America Vote Act provides additional funding for Protection and Advocacy organizations, also called P&As, related to voting assistance, in Section 291 of HAVA.
Funds made available under HAVA are to be used to:
- Provide education, training and assistance to individuals with disabilities to promote their participation in the electoral process;
- Provide education and assistance to individuals with disabilities regarding voter registration;
- Provide education to individuals with disabilities regarding their legal rights pertaining to voting;
- Provide assistance to individuals with disabilities in accessing the polling places on election day;
- Participate in advocacy efforts regarding all HAVA implementation efforts in their State;
- Participate on the HAVA State Planning Committee;
- Provide input and comments into State HAVA planning and activities, including activities concerning HAVA State legislation;
- Participate in and provide training and education to election officials, poll workers and election volunteers regarding the rights of voters with disabilities;
- Provide assistance to States regarding the physical accessibility of polling places, such as surveying polling places, identifying needed modifications, and developing criteria for identifying accessible polling places; and
- Obtain training and technical assistance on voting issues, including matters related to accessible voting equipment and systems.
In FY 2003, a total of $1,860,000 was made available and 55 grants were awarded to the Protection and Advocacy Systems (P&As) of States and Territories to support activities described in the law. In FY 2003, all States, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico received $34,766, and all other Territories received $17,383. In FY 2004, a total of $4,970,500 was made available and 55 grants ranging from $70,000 to $350,789 were awarded to all States, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. American Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands each received $35,000. State-by-State allotment tables for FY 2003 and FY 2004 can be found on page 8.
Examples of activities carried out by Protection and Advocacy Systems are below.
The Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc. of Florida:
- Sponsored a voter empowerment summit addressing topics such as voter identification and registration, electronic voting, and election access for voters with disabilities;
- Provided technical assistance to the Florida Secretary of State’s Office and to County Supervisors of Elections on disability access issues;
- Contributed to the development of voluntary guidelines for accessible campaigns; and
- Arranged transportation for persons for early voting and for Election Day voting.
Protection and Advocacy, Inc. of California:
- Trained approximately 600 individuals on topics related to ensuring full participation in elections for voters with the full range of disabilities;
- Was a member of the California Secretary of State’s task force to develop uniform poll worker training standards and participated in the development of these standards; and
- Sponsored an Election Day hotline for people with disabilities seeking advice.
South Dakota Advocacy Services:
- Published a series of articles on the Help America Vote Act covering topics relevant to voters with disabilities;
- Provided training to county auditors;
- Conducted eight outreach events to distribute HAVA information; and
- Participated in seven public listening sessions addressing voting issues and concerns.
Ohio Legal Rights Services (OLRS), in anticipation of the 2004 election:
- Mobilized nearly one-half of its attorneys and advocates to create the OLRS Ballot Access Project team. This team created a dedicated, 24-hour voting intake service with direct access to staff during business hours and a scripted voice message system during off-hours for next business day response to address issues related to voting.
Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services:
- Organized individuals knowledgeable of the Americans with Disabilities Act to assist local clerks in surveying the physical accessibility of polling places throughout Michigan.
Pennsylvania Protection and Advocacy System, Inc.:
- Identified persons with disabilities living in nursing homes, personal care homes, group homes, and other congregate settings to provide advocacy and support to assist those individuals in exercising their voting rights.
The Disability Law Center of Alaska:
- Provided outreach to over 100 assisted living homes;
- Offered voter registration assistance to residents; and
- Provided voters with information regarding their voting rights.
West Virginia Advocates:
- Conducted site visits to polling places;
- Completed surveys to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act related to accessibility; and
- Developed a process to be used on Election Day whereby staff were available to answer calls from voters seeking information, assistance, or transportation to the polling place.
|District of Columbia||34,766||70,000|
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.