May 2004

Help America Vote Act

From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Keith Wright • Chair, Election Law Committee
Kevin A. Cahill, RoAnn M. Destito, Helene E. Weinstein •
Members, HAVA Conference Committee

Assembly’s plan to comply with the Help America Vote Act makes voting efficient, easy for New Yorkers

The Assembly believes that the conference committee dealing with the Help America Vote Act of 2002 is the best way to come up with an agreement on the issue. HAVA is a federal program designed to help states create a uniform, computerized voter registration list and assist states with establishing standardized, electronic voting machines. In order to receive federal funds, each state must design a plan, pass enabling legislation, and appropriate state funds. The process must also include citizen participation and public review.

The Assembly has a plan that will work for the voters. It will help increase voter turnout and empower all New Yorkers with a voting process that is reliable and user-friendly. Elections are the lifeblood of our democracy, but they are meaningless without public trust. The Assembly’s plan will help ensure voter confidence in New York elections.

Making voting easy and efficient for New Yorkers

The joint Assembly-Senate conference committee is attempting to iron out the differences between each house’s legislation and come up with a comprehensive package. The following is a comparison of the Assembly’s and Senate’s plans.

Protecting the integrity of the electoral system and the privacy of voters

Assembly bill A.8842 Senate bill S.6201

Requires that social security numbers and department of motor vehicles numbers are kept confidential

No such provision

Contains a non-exclusive list of 20 acceptable forms of identification

Requires identification, but does not specify what is satisfactory

Provides for confidential registration for victims of domestic violence, people with an order of protection and law enforcement officials

No such provision

Provides the voter access system required by HAVA so voters can see if their affidavit ballot was counted

No such provision

Identifies 22 items of information the statewide voter registration database must include; permits the gathering of e-mail addresses; and requires the database to include a digitized signature

Requires simply that the list include registration information and a unique identifier; and prohibits gathering e-mail addresses

State Board of Elections should maintain database, but additions and changes to voter records will be done by localities

Gives State Board of Elections the unspecified power to “maintain” and “administer the database

Makes technical corrections regarding inactive status lists, voter enrollment and cancellations, or replacement of lost or corrected records

Does not conform changes to the current election law

Making voting convenient for the disabled

Assembly bill A.8847 Senate bill S.6207

Requires one machine for each polling place which includes audio prompt voting, sip-and-puff voting, and a hand-held recording device

Requires minimum accessibility to satisfy HAVA

Removes the three-minute voting time limit and replaces it with a prohibition on taking more time to vote than necessary, giving people with disabilities enough time to record a vote

No such provision

Modernizing voting machines

Assembly bill A.8847 Senate bill S.6207

Requires the state Board of Elections to purchase machines and provide them to localities

Allows any machine that meets the BOE’s minimum standards

Includes an education component to transition voters to the new machines

No such provision

Provides that the state Board of Elections appoint members to a citizens advisory committee to make recommendations on machine criteria

Has 11 members appointed by various means – mostly by Republicans

The mess in Florida during the 2000 presidential election showed how important it is to have a functional voting system in place. The Assembly looks forward to working with the Senate in the conference committee to draft the best plan to comply with HAVA and make voting efficient and easy for New Yorkers. Modernizing and improving our electoral process will ensure voter confidence and encourage broader participation.

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