Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Conference report filed in House (10/08/2002)

Help America Vote Act of 2002 - Title I: Payments to States for Election Administration Improvements and Replacement of Punch Card and Lever Voting Machines - (Sec. 101) Directs the Administrator of General Services to establish a program for payment to each State that intends to use the payment in accordance with specified guidelines for activities to improve the administration of elections for Federal office. Designates permitted uses of such funds. Sets the size of the payment at an amount based on the voting age population plus a described minimum payment amount.

(Sec. 102) Requires the Administrator to establish a program for payment to each eligible State in which a precinct used a punch card voting system or a lever voting system to administer the regularly scheduled general election for Federal office held in November 2000 to replace such systems with other systems meeting the requirements of this Act. Sets the size of the payment at an amount based on the number of qualifying precincts within the State.

(Sec. 103) Sets the minimum aggregate payment amount under these provisions at $5 million.

(Sec. 104) Authorizes appropriations.

Title II: Commission - Subtitle A: Establishment and General Organization - Part 1: Election Assistance Commission - (Sec. 201) Establishes the Election Assistance Commission (Commission) as an independent entity to serve as a national clearinghouse and resource for the compilation of information and review of procedures with respect to the administration of Federal elections. Authorizes appropriations for FY 2003 through 2005.

Part 2: Election Assistance Commission Standards Board and Board of Advisors - (Sec. 211) Establishes the Election Assistance Commission Standards Board and the Election Assistance Commission Board of Advisors to review the voluntary voting system guidelines developed under Part 3 of this title, the voluntary guidance under title III of this Act, and the best practices recommended under subtitle C for facilitating military and overseas voting.

Part 3: Technical Guidelines Development Committee - (Sec. 221) Establishes the Technical Guidelines Development Committee to assist the Executive Director of the Commission in the development of the voluntary voting system guidelines.

(Sec. 222) Prescribes a process for final adoption of such guidelines.

Subtitle B: Testing, Certification, Decertification, and Recertification of Voting System Hardware and Software - (Sec. 231) Requires the Commission to provide for the testing, certification, decertification, and recertification of voting system hardware and software by accredited laboratories. Gives States the option of providing for testing, certification, decertification, or recertification of its voting system hardware and software by the laboratories accredited by the Commission. Directs the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to provide a list of independent, non-Federal laboratories recommended for accreditation to: (1) carry out such testing, certification, decertification, and recertification; and (2) monitor and review accredited laboratory performance on an ongoing basis.

Subtitle C: Studies and Other Activities to Promote Effective Administration of Federal Elections - (Sec. 241) Directs the Commission to conduct, make available to the public, and to report to the President and to specified congressional committees on periodic studies regarding certain election administration issues with the goal of promoting methods of voting and administering elections which will be the most convenient, accessible, and easy to use for voters, will yield the most accurate election results, will be nondiscriminatory, and will be efficient and cost-effective for use.

(Sec. 242) Directs the Commission to: (1) study the best practices for facilitating voting by absent uniform services voters and overseas voters for a report to the President and Congress; (2) assess for Congress the areas of human factor research which feasibly could be applied to voting products and systems design to ensure usability and accuracy of voting products and systems; (3) study and report to the President and Congress on the impact on affected voters of title III subtitle A requirements for voters who register by mail; (4) study and report to Congress on the feasibility and advisability of using social security identification numbers or other information compiled by the Social Security Administration to establish voter registration or other election law eligibility or identification requirements; (5) study and report to specified congressional committees on issues and challenges, specifically the potential for election fraud, presented by incorporating communications and Internet technologies in the Federal, State, and local electoral process; and (6) study the feasibility and advisability of establishing a program under which the Postal Service will waive or otherwise reduce the amount of postage applicable to absentee ballots voters submit in Federal general elections that does not apply to the postage required to send such ballots to voters.

Subtitle D: Election Assistance - Part 1: Requirements Payments - (Sec. 251) Requires the Commission to make yearly payments to qualifying States to meet the requirements of this Act. Requires States to use such payments to meet such requirements, but allows their use as reimbursement for costs incurred in obtaining voting equipment after the November 2000 Federal general election. Permits use of such payments, also, for other activities to improve the administration of elections for Federal office.

(Sec. 253) Requires an eligible State to file a plan for implementation of certain mandatory uniform, nondiscriminatory administrative complaint procedures, and have such procedures in place.

(Sec. 257) Authorizes appropriations for FY 2003 through 2005.

Part 2: Payments to States and Units of Local Government to Assure Access for Individuals with Disabilities - (Sec. 261) Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make yearly payments to eligible States and local governments to assure access to polling places for individuals with disabilities, including the blind and visually impaired, and to provide them with information on accessibility.

(Sec. 264) Authorizes appropriations for FY 2003 through 2005.

Part 3: Grants for Research on Voting Technology Improvements - (Sec. 271) Directs the Commission to make grants to assist eligible 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.

(Sec. 273) Authorizes appropriations for FY 2003.

Part 4: Pilot Program for Testing of Equipment and Technology - (Sec. 281) Directs the Commission to make grants to eligible entities to carry out pilot programs under which new technologies in voting systems and equipment are tested and implemented on a trial basis so that the results of such tests and trials are reported to Congress.

(Sec. 283) Authorizes appropriations for FY 2003.

Part 5: Protection and Advocacy Systems - (Sec. 291) Requires the Secretary to pay the protection and advocacy system of each State to ensure full participation in the electoral process for individuals with disabilities.

(Sec. 292) Authorizes appropriations for FY 2003 through 2006 and subsequent fiscal years.

Part 6: National Student and Parent Mock Election - (Sec. 295) Authorizes the Election Assistance Commission to award grants to the National Student and Parent Mock Election, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to promote voter participation in American elections to enable it to carry out voter education activities for students and their parents.

(Sec. 296) Authorizes appropriations for FY 2003 through 2009.

Title III: Uniform and Nondiscriminatory Election Technology and Administration Requirements - Subtitle A: Requirements - (Sec. 301) - Requires each voting system used in an election for Federal office, while maintaining voter privacy and ballot confidentiality, to: (1) permit the voter to verify the votes selected by the voter on the ballot before the ballot is cast and counted; (2) provide the voter with the opportunity to change the ballot or correct any error before the ballot is cast and counted; and (3) if the voter selects votes for more than one candidate for a single office, notify the voter that more than one candidate for office has been selected and of the effect of casting multiple votes for the office, and provide the voter with the opportunity to correct the ballot before the ballot is cast and counted.

Creates an exception for a State or jurisdiction that uses a paper ballot voting system, a punch card voting system, or a central count voting system to meet such requirement by establishing a voter education program specific to that voting system that notifies each voter of the effect of casting multiple votes for an office and providing the voter with instructions on how to correct the ballot before it is cast and counted. Requires the voting system to: (1) produce a record with an audit capacity for such system; (2) be accessible for individuals with disabilities in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation as for other voters; (3) provide alternative language accessibility pursuant to the Voting Rights Act of 1965; (4) comply with established error rate standards; and (5) operate according to a uniform definition of what constitutes a vote.

(Sec. 302) Provides for provisional voting by individuals who declare that they are registered to vote in a Federal election in a jurisdiction but who are not on the official list of registered voters or are otherwise alleged to be ineligible. Requires that: (1) such individuals be permitted to cast a provisional ballot; (2) the ballot be promptly verified and counted if determined to be valid under State law; and (3) the voter be able to ascertain whether the vote was counted, and, if the vote was not counted, why it was not counted.

Declares that States that do not require voter registration for Federal elections may meet these provisional voting requirements using voter registration procedures established under applicable State law. Requires: (1) a sample ballot and other voting information to be publicly posted at each polling place on the day of each election for Federal office; and (2) that if polling hours are extended as a result of a court order any individual who votes during the extension will vote by provisional ballot and the ballot cast shall be held separate from other provisional ballots cast by those not affected by the order.

(Sec. 303) Requires each State without voter registration requirements for Federal elections to implement a single, uniform, official, centralized, interactive computerized statewide voter registration list that contains the name and registration information, including a unique identifier, of every legally registered voter in the State to serve as the official voter registration list for the conduct of all elections for Federal office in the State. Requires the appropriate State or local election official to perform list maintenance with respect to the computerized list on a regular basis and to provide adequate technological security measures to prevent unauthorized access to the computerized list.

Requires the State election system to ensure that voter registration records in the State are accurate and are updated regularly. Prescribes minimum requirements for verification of voter registration information, including driver's license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number. Requires voters who register by mail to present a current and valid photo identification when voting in person, or if voting by mail, to enclose a copy of such identification or of a current utility bill, bank statement, or government document showing name and address.

Requires that mail-in voter registration forms developed under the National Voter Registration Act of 1963 include questions requiring voters to verify that they are U.S. citizens and old enough to vote. Requires States to notify voters who fail to complete the question on citizenship and provide them with an opportunity to complete the form before the next Federal election.

(Sec. 304) States that the requirements established by this title are minimum requirements and nothing in this title shall be construed to prevent a State from establishing stricter election technology and administration requirements so long as they are not inconsistent with requirements under this title or specified Federal law.

Subtitle B: Voluntary Guidance - (Sec. 311) Requires the Commission to adopt voluntary guidance to assist States in meeting the requirements of subtitle A and to update voting systems standards recommendations every four years.

(Sec. 312) Specifies elements of the process for adopting voluntary guidance.

Title IV: Enforcement - (Sec. 401) Allows for civil action by the Attorney General against any State or jurisdiction to carry out the uniform and non-discriminatory election technology and administration requirements of title III.

(Sec. 402) Requires: (1) States receiving payment under this Act to establish and maintain State-based administrative complaint procedures with respect to violations of title III; and (2) States not receiving payment either to certify that they meet complaint-procedure requirements or to submit a plan to the Attorney General describing steps to be taken to meet title III requirements. Provides that States without an approved plan shall be deemed to be out of compliance with the requirements.

Title V: Help America Vote College Program - (Sec. 501) Requires the Election Assistance Commission to develop a Help America Vote College Program to: (1) encourage students enrolled at institutions of higher education to assist State and local governments in the administration of elections by serving as nonpartisan poll workers or assistants; and (2) encourage State and local governments to use the services of the students participating in the Program. Authorizes appropriations.

Title VI: Help America Vote Foundation - (Sec. 601) Amends Federal law on patriotic and national observances, ceremonies, and organizations to establish the Help America Vote Foundation as a federally chartered, charitable, and nonprofit corporation to: (1) mobilize secondary school students to participate in the election process in a nonpartisan manner as poll workers or assistants; (2) place secondary school students as nonpartisan poll workers or assistants to local election officials in precinct polling places; and (3) establish cooperative efforts with State and local election officials, local educational agencies, superintendents and principals of public and private secondary schools, and other appropriate nonprofit charitable and educational tax-exempt organizations to further the purpose of the foundation. Authorizes appropriations.

Title VII: Voting Rights of Military Members and Overseas Citizens - (Sec. 701) Amends Federal armed forces law, as added by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002, to require the Secretary of Defense to prescribe procedures to provide the time and resources for voting assistance officers to perform voting assistance duties during the period in advance of a general election. Requires the Secretary, to the maximum extent practicable, to implement measures to ensure that a postmark or other official proof of mailing date is provided on each absentee ballot collected at any overseas location or vessel at sea whenever the Department of Defense is responsible for collecting mail for return shipment to the United States. Requires the Secretary to ensure that the measures implemented do not result in the delivery of absentee ballots to their final destination after the date of the Federal election.

Directs the Secretary of each military department, utilizing the voting assistance officer network established for each military installation, to notify members of the armed forces stationed at that installation of the last date before a general election for which absentee ballots mailed from an installation postal facility can reasonably be expected to be timely delivered to the appropriate State and local election officials.

Requires the Secretary to ensure that members of the armed forces and their dependents who are qualified to vote have ready access to information regarding voter registration requirements and deadlines, absentee ballot application requirements and deadlines, and the availability of voting assistance officers to assist members and dependents to understand and comply with these requirements. Directs the Secretary to make the national voter registration form prepared for purposes of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act by the Federal Election Commission available so that each person who enlists will receive such form at the time of enlistment, or as soon thereafter as practicable.

(Sec. 702) Amends the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act to require: (1) each State to designate a single office responsible for providing information on registration and absentee ballot procedures for all voters in the State; (2) each State and unit of local government which administered an election to report to the Election Assistance Commission on the combined number of absentee ballots transmitted to absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters for the election, and the combined number of such ballots returned by such voters and cast in the election; (3) provide for an extension of the period covered by a single absentee ballot application; (4) charges the presidential designee under the Act with developing a standard oath for use with voting documents, and providing statistical analysis of voter participation for both overseas voters and absent uniformed services voters; (5) prohibit the refusal of voter registration and absentee ballot applications on grounds of early submission; and (6) set forth other requirements to promote participation of overseas and absent uniformed services voters.

Title VIII: Transition Provisions - Subtitle A: Transfer to Commission of Functions Under Certain Laws - (Sec. 801) Transfers various specified functions to the Election Assistance Commission.

Subtitle B: Coverage of Commission Under Certain Laws and Programs - (Sec. 811) Provides for coverage of the Commission under certain civil service laws and programs, including the Hatch Act and the Inspector General Act of 1978.

Title IX: Miscellaneous Provisions - (Sec. 902) Sets forth miscellaneous requirements for audits and repayment of funds.

(Sec. 903) Amends the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to make it explicit that State election officials have the ability to remove from the voter registration list the name of an individual who has not responded to a notice from the registrar of voters and who has not voted in two or more consecutive general elections for Federal office.

(Sec. 904) Requires the Attorney General to review existing criminal statutes and report to specified congressional committees on: (1) whether additional statutory offenses are needed to secure the use of the Internet for election purposes; and (2) whether existing penalties provide adequate punishment and deterrence with respect to such offenses.

(Sec. 905) Provides for other criminal penalties for conspiracy to deprive voters of a fair election and for false information in registering and voting.