Help America Vote Act Program Highlights 2005
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 29, 2002. Administration of the law's disability provisions (sections 261 and 291) was assigned to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, who delegated the responsibility to the Administration on Children and Families (ACF) who subsequently delegated the responsibility to the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD).
Since HAVA was signed into law, ADD has given 338 grants totaling approximately $45,000,000. These grants are used to make polling places accessible to individuals with disabilities, to provide the same opportunity for access and participation in the electoral process (including privacy and independence) to voters with disabilities as that which exists for voters with no disabilities, to provide training for election workers on how best to promote access and participation of individuals with disabilities in elections for Federal office, and to provide information to individuals with disabilities about the accessibility of polling places. All of these provisions apply to individuals with the full range of disabilities, not just those with developmental disabilities. Progress is being made on the 2006 goal of having all polling places fully accessible, including the presence of one voting system within each polling place that allows for privacy and independence for voters with disabilities.
1. State Grants for Election Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities (EAID):
For FY 2005, 55 grants ranging from $100,000 to $987,918 were awarded to States, (including the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands) to carry out the following activities.
- Make polling places, including path of travel, entrances, exits, and voting areas of each polling facility, accessible to individuals with the full range of disabilities.
- Provide the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) to individuals with the full range of disabilities.
- Provide 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.
- Provide individuals with the full range of disabilities with information about the accessibility of polling places.
2. Protection and Advocacy Systems; Help America to Vote:
For FY 2005, 55 grants ranging from $70,000 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.
3. Training and Technical Assistance to Assist Protection and Advocacy Systems to Establish or Improve Voting Access for Individuals With Disabilities:
This discretionary grant program is funded by 7 percent of the amount appropriated for State Protection and Advocacy Systems (see #2 above). Any grant funded by this 7 percent must be used for training and technical assistance to Protection and Advocacy Systems 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. This funding is NOT for or to assist State grantees funded under #1 above. The recipient(s) of these funds must assure that training and technical assistance will be provided to all Protection and Advocacy Systems throughout the Nation. In FY 2005, three grants were awarded for a total amount of $347,177.