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Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), Pub. L. No. 107-252, 116 Stat. 1666-1730 (2002), codified at 42 U.S.C. §§15301-15545.
One of the primary HAVA provisions relates to encouraging states and others to upgrade antiquated voting systems and technologies and authorizing $3.86 billion over several fiscal years to support states in making federally mandated improvements to their voting systems.
HAVA also includes minimum requirements for such systems, to include providing voters with the ability to verify their votes before casting their ballot, producing permanent paper records for manual auditing of voting systems, and complying with ballot counting error rates set out in specified federal voting system standards.
HAVA also requires that such systems provide individuals with disabilities the same opportunity for access and participation by providing for the use of at least one DRE or other voting system equipped for individuals with disabilities at each polling place. The deadline for states and jurisdictions to comply with specific minimum requirements for voting systems, such as producing a paper record for audit purposes, was January 1, 2006.
In addition, HAVA established the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and assigned it wide-ranging duties to help improve state and local administration of federal elections. To assist EAC in establishing voting system standards and performing its responsibilities, HAVA established three organizations and levied new requirements on a fourth. Specifically, it established a technical guidelines committee to develop and recommend voting system standards to EAC. To assist in an independent review of these standards, EAC chartered, as required by HAVA, a Standards Board, comprised of 110 state, territory, District, and local election officials, and established the Board of Advisors to review the voluntary guidelines developed by EAC’s guidelines committee and provide comments and recommendations to EAC.
Role of NIST Edit
The Act gave the NIST a key role in helping to implement nationwide improvements in voting systems by January 2006. To assist the Election Assistance Commission with the development of voluntary voting system guidelines, HAVA established the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) and directs NIST to chair the TGDC. NIST research activities include:
- security of computers, computer networks, and computer data storage used in voting systems;
- methods to detect and prevent fraud;
- protection of voter privacy; and
- the role of human factors in the design and application of voting systems, including assistive technologies for individuals with disabilities (including blindness) and varying levels of literacy.