Resources – Help America Vote Act

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 was passed by the United States Congress to make sweeping reforms to the nation’s voting process. HAVA addresses improvements to voting systems and voter access that were identified following the 2000 election. HAVA also established the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to assist the states regarding HAVA compliance and provide support in many areas of election administration.

Full text of the Help America Vote Act:

Sections of HAVA concerning accessibility

One of the sections of HAVA establishes voting systems standards with 6 broad requirements, including accessibility.

Section 301. Voting System Standards

(a) REQUIREMENTS.—Each voting system used in an election for Federal office shall meet the following requirements:

(1) IN GENERAL.—

(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), the voting system (including any lever voting system, optical scanning voting system, or direct recording electronic system) shall—

(i) permit the voter to verify (in a private and independent manner) the votes selected by the voter on the ballot before the ballot is cast and counted;

(ii) provide the voter with the opportunity (in a private and independent manner) to change the ballot or correct any error before the ballot is cast and counted (including the opportunity to correct the error through the issuance of a replacement ballot if the voter was otherwise unable to change the ballot or correct any error); and

(iii) if the voter selects votes for more than one candidate for a single office—
(I) notify the voter that the voter has selected more than one candidate for a single office on the ballot;
(II) notify the voter before the ballot is cast and counted of the effect of casting multiple votes for the office; and
(III) provide the voter with the opportunity to correct the ballot before the ballot is cast and counted.

(2) AUDIT CAPACITY

(A) IN GENERAL.—The voting system shall produce a record with an audit capacity for such system.

(B) MANUAL AUDIT CAPACITY.—
(i) The voting system shall produce a permanent paper record with a manual audit capacity for such system.
(ii) The voting system shall provide the voter with an opportunity to change the ballot or correct any error before the permanent paper record is produced.
(iii) The paper record produced under subparagraph (A) shall be available as an official record for any recount conducted with respect to any election in which the system is used.

(3) ACCESSIBILITY FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES.—The voting system shall—

(A) be accessible for individuals with disabilities, including nonvisual accessibility for the blind and visually impaired, in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters;

(B) satisfy the requirement of subparagraph (A) through the use of at least one direct recording electronic voting system or other voting system equipped for individuals with disabilities at each polling place; and

(C) if purchased with funds made available under title II on or after January 1, 2007, meet the voting system standards for disability access (as outlined in this paragraph).

(4) ALTERNATIVE LANGUAGE ACCESSIBILITY.—The voting system shall provide alternative language accessibility pursuant to the requirements of section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973aa–1a).

(5) ERROR RATES….

(6) UNIFORM DEFINITION OF WHAT CONSTITUTES A VOTE.— Each State shall adopt uniform and nondiscriminatory standards that define what constitutes a vote and what will be counted as a vote for each category of voting system used in the State.

(b) VOTING SYSTEM DEFINED.—In this section, the term “voting system” means—

(1) the total combination of mechanical, electromechanical, or electronic equipment (including the software, firmware, and documentation required to program, control, and support the equipment) that is used—
(A) to define ballots;
(B) to cast and count votes;
(C) to report or display election results; and
(D) to maintain and produce any audit trail information;

The following are selections of other sections of HAVA that mention accessibilty. Please see the full text of the law for the complete context.

Section 101. Payments to states for activities to improve administration of elections

(b) Uses of Payment
(1)(G) Improving the accessibility and quantity of polling places, including providing physical access for individuals with disabilities, providing nonvisual 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.

Section 241. Periodic studies of election administration issues

(a) IN GENERAL.—On such periodic basis as the Commission may determine, the Commission shall conduct and make available to the public studies regarding the election administration issues described in subsection (b), with the goal of promoting methods of voting and administering elections which—
(1) will be the most convenient, accessible, and easy to use for voters, including members of the uniformed services and overseas voters, individuals with disabilities, including the blind and visually impaired, and voters with limited proficiency in the English language;
(2) will yield the most accurate, secure, and expeditious system for voting and tabulating election results;
(3) will be nondiscriminatory and afford each registered and eligible voter an equal opportunity to vote and to havethat vote counted; and
(4) will be efficient and cost-effective for use.(b) Election Administration issues described
(5)  Methods of ensuring the accessibility of voting, registration, polling places, and voting equipment to all voters, including individuals with disabilities (including the blind and visually impaired), Native American or Alaska Native citizens, and voters with limited proficiency in the English language.

Section 245. Study and report on electronic voting and the electoral process.

(a) STUDY.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—The Commission shall conduct a thorough study of issues and challenges, specifically to include the potential for election fraud, presented by incorporating communications and Internet technologies in the Federal, State, and local electoral process.
(2) ISSUES TO BE STUDIED.—The Commission may include in the study conducted under paragraph (1) an examination of-
(C) the impact that new communications or Internet technology systems for use in the electoral process could have on voter participation rates, voter education, public accessibility, potential external influences during the elections process, voter privacy and anonymity, and other issues related to the conduct and administration of elections;

Section 261. Payments to states and units of local government to assure access for individuals with disabilities

(a) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall make a payment to each eligible State and each eligible unit of local government (as described in section 263).

(b) USE OF FUNDS.—An eligible State and eligible unit of local government shall use the payment received under this part for—
(1) making polling places, including the path of travel, entrances, exits, and voting areas of each polling facility, accessible to individuals with disabilities, including the blind and visually impaired, in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters; and
(2) providing individuals with disabilities and the otherindividuals described in paragraph (1) with information about the accessibility of polling places, including outreach programs to inform the individuals about the availability of accessible polling places and training election officials, poll workers, and election volunteers on how best to promote the access and participation of individuals with disabilities in elections for Federal office.

Section 271. Grants for research on voting technology improvements. 

(a) IN GENERAL —The Commission shall make grants to assist entities in carrying out research and development to improve the quality, reliability, accuracy, accessibility, affordability, and security of voting equipment, election systems, and voting technology.

Section 281. Pilot Programs 

(a) IN GENERAL.—The Commission shall make grants to carry out pilot programs under which new technologies in voting systems and equipment are tested and implemented on a trial basis…

(b) ELIGIBILITY.
(1) certifications that the pilot programs funded with the grant will take into account the need to make voting equipment fully accessible for individuals with disabilities, including the blind and visually impaired, the need to ensure that such individuals can vote independently and with privacy, and the need to provide alternative language accessibility for individuals with limited proficiency in the English language (consistent with the requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the requirements of this Act)