How World’s Oldest Democracy Made Elections Accessible? A Special Coverage of Help America Vote Act – Part 1

The United States Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) on Oct 29, 2002. The bill was signed into law by the then US President George W Bush; the law made sweeping reforms to its voting process & making elections accessible. The act was drafted, on the foundation of the already popular ADA and NVRA.

The law made improvements to voting systems and voter access, identified following the year 2000 US Presidential Elections.

The law created mandatory minimum standards for the various states in the US in many election administration areas. The law also created the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to help the states achieve HAVA compliance and assist in the fund distribution. 

EAC’s role was to create the voting system guideline and operate the federal government’s first voting system certification program. In addition to maintaining the national voter registration form, EAC is also responsible for conducting research and even administering the clearinghouse at the national level. This clearinghouse includes information for the various voters, shared best practices, etc.

The HAVA’s broader requirement was to implement the following programs of the federal government that were instituted as part of EAC or ADA.

  • Provisional Voting
  • Voting Information
  • Updated & Upgraded Voting Equipment
  • Maintain a State-wideVvoter Registration Database
  • Voter Identification Procedures
  • Administrative Complaint Procedures

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) made it mandatory for institutions conducting elections to provide at least one voting system for a person with disabilities at every voting place for the federal election. As per the law, the voting system must provide access & participation for all the citizens, including rights to participation.

The act is an extension of sorts to the ADA of 1990 & NVRA of 1993, extending by making voting accessible. 

The act requires jurisdictions in charge of conducting federal elections to have an accessible voting machine. This must be accessible to citizens who are blind and visually impaired at each polling place. 

In almost all the provisions of the act, the requirements extend the scope of what ADA already covers. This law makes sure that 61 million American citizens in the US with some form of disability are part of the United States’ electoral system.