HAVA Annual Report 2005–2006
The Help America Vote Act – A Report to Congress, the President, and the National Council on Disability
I. Protection and Advocacy Systems—Help America Vote Act:
The Protection and Advocacy Systems, commonly known as P&As, are federally mandated agencies under Section 102 of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (DD Act) . Whereas, Section 291 of HAVA provides that funds be made available to the P&As of each State and Territory to ensure full participation in the electoral process for individuals with disabilities, including registering to vote, casting a vote, and accessing polling places. Grant funds are for the purpose of providing services to individuals with disabilities within the State, as well as education and advocacy activities that ensure the full participation of individuals with disabilities in the electoral process.
P&As are strongly encouraged to use the funds to provide education, training and assistance to individuals with disabilities that will promote their participation in the electoral process. Such activities include, but are not limited to: education regarding voter registration, providing individuals with disabilities the opportunity to register to vote, providing education to individuals with disabilities regarding their legal rights that pertain to voting, and providing assistance to individuals with disabilities in accessing the polls on Election Day.
P&As may use grant funds to:
- participate in advocacy and education efforts revolving around all HAVA implementation efforts in their State or Territory. Such activities may include, but are not limited to: participation on the HAVA State Planning Committee, any subcommittees or coalition efforts regarding the State Plan, reviewing the work of the Committee, providing comments regarding the State Plan, and review, advocacy, and education concerning the enactment of HAVA State legislation.
- participate in the training and education of election officials, poll workers and election volunteers regarding the rights of the voters with disabilities and best practices in working with individuals with disabilities. Training and education activities may include, but are not limited to, providing training and participating in the development of training and education programs for election officials and poll workers.
- assist individuals with disabilities in filing complaints under the State-based administrative grievance procedure required by HAVA and to represent individuals with disabilities in any hearings that may be held regarding the complaint.
- provide assistance to States and other government entities regarding the physical accessibility of polling places, such as surveying polling places, identifying potential modifications to make specific polling places accessible and developing criteria for identifying accessible polling places.
- obtain training and technical assistance on voting issues, including education regarding accessible voting equipment and systems. Once educated in this matter, P&As may use this information to inform others of the availability of accessible voting equipment and its use.
In Fiscal Years 2005 & 2006, 110 grants ranging from $35,000 to $349,292 were awarded to the Protection and Advocacy Systems of each State (including the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and Virgin Islands) to support their efforts in ensuring the full participation in the electoral process for individuals with disabilities, including registering to vote, casting a vote, and accessing polling places. Refer to table 1 for breakdown of the Protection & Advocacy Systems funding allotment.
Examples of activities accomplished by Protection and Advocacy Systems are described below.
- Arkansas – The Arkansas Disability Rights Center (ADRC) collaborated with the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office and split the cost of producing a voter demonstration video. The video provided viewers with detailed voter rights information. Both groups had the opportunity to duplicate and distribute the videos/DVD Statewide which accompanied training used by “PROJECT VOTE” throughout fiscal year 2007.
- Connecticut –The Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities participates in a collaborative project, entitled “Every 1 Counts,” with the Office of the Secretary of State. The Every 1 Counts project addresses the rights of voters with disabilities in Connecticut through outreach, advocacy, education and assistance.
- District of Columbia – University Legal Services, Inc.(ULS) — Protection & Advocacy conducted voter registration drives in July 2006 at nursing homes, residential buildings for the elderly and people with disabilities, and the local psychiatric hospital, assisting more than 130 residents in completing new voter registrations or updating their information.
- Idaho – The Idaho Protection & Advocacy system participated in “Determined to Vote,” a consortium project committed to increasing the participation of Idahoans with disabilities in the electoral process. This has been an intensive collaboration between the P&A, the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities, and the Idaho Secretary of State. The “Determined to Vote” project also focused on increasing the knowledge of people with disabilities about the electoral process through state and regional training modules.
- Louisiana – Organized the Registrars of Voters Conference to train and educate officials, poll workers, and election volunteers regarding the rights of the voters with disabilities and the best practices in working with individuals with disabilities (450 served).
- Maine – Maine Disability Rights Center (DRC) implemented a “Transportation Project” to assist voters with disabilities with transportation to the polls.
- Missouri – The Missouri Protection & Advocacy used HAVA grant funds in establishing its statewide role through the creation of a special Vote at Home Project. The Vote at Home Project utilized a state law offering Missouri voters with disabilities the opportunity to register with their local election authority as being permanently disabled so they could vote in every election via absentee ballot. In addition to the Vote at Home Project, MO P&A legal staff collaborated with advocacy and disability rights organizations to challenge a restrictive Missouri voting law, which required all voters to show state-approved photo identification in order to vote. Ultimately, this challenge led to the Missouri Supreme Court overturning the change in state law so that voters with disabilities were able to vote with the same rights as non-disabled voters.
- Puerto Rico – The Puerto Rico Protection & Advocacy system’s main achievements for persons with mobility disabilities included establishing new dimensions for voting booths, installing removable ramps in Accessible Voting Places, and the option for a disabled person to select someone of his/her confidence to provide assistance in casting his/her vote (Puerto Rico Electoral Law). To assist blind persons and persons with visual impairments, the Accessible Voting College (AVC) included Braille templates, an instruction book of the electoral process in Braille and enlarged text, magnifying glasses, Braille stickers to identify the Electoral ID card, and verbal instructions in every polling place.
- Vermont – Vermont Protection & Advocacy’s (VP&A) voter registration activities were innovative as they provided support and voter education within Vermont’s correctional facilities and outreach services at a variety of venues and was not limited to typical facilities and locations frequented by people with disabilities. VP&A visited inmates with disabilities in correctional facilities to offer voter registration forms, early voter forms, and other information about voter rights.
- Virgin Island – The Virgin Islands P&A, the Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands (DRCVI), conducted a voter registration survey to determine the voter registration status among individuals with disabilities. The survey showed that 22% of 747 individual persons with disabilities surveyed were not registered to vote. This study served as an effort to develop ideas on how to eliminate barriers at polling sites and the ballot box. During the Primary Election Day, the DRCVI legal staff visited several polling places on the islands of St. Croix and St. Thomas to review and report on the physical accessibility of polling locations. Polling places that were not ADA-compliant were reported to the V.I. Election System for further review and correction. DRCVI legal staff spoke before a group of election officials, poll workers, and election volunteers on the issues facing persons with disabilities and their voting rights.
- Wyoming – Collaborating with the Secretary of State’s Office, the Wyoming Protection & Advocacy were granted use of Wyoming’s new voting machines to train individuals with disabilities on how to use them. Six hundred ninety two individuals received training.
Table 1. Protection & Advocacy Systems Fiscal Years 2005 & 2006 Funding Allotment
|State/Territory||Fiscal Year 2005||Fiscal Year 2006|
|District of Columbia||70,000||70,000|
|New Hampshire (NH)||70,000||70,000|
|New Jersey (NJ)||85,032||78,662|
|New Mexico (NM)||70,000||70,000|
|New York (NY)||188,898||173,866|
|North Carolina (NC)||82,757||77,236|
|North Dakota (ND)||70,000||70,000|
|South Carolina (SC)||70,000||70,000|
|South Dakota (SD)||70,000||70,000|
|West Virginia (WV)||70,000||70,000|