Protection and Advocacy for Voting Access
In 2002 Congress passed the Help America Vote Act or HAVA. This law is designed to improve the general election process and it provides new federal election requirements for state election officials to follow. Some of these requirements include:
- Each state must develop a centralized, computerized and uniform statewide voter registration database to ensure the accuracy of voter registration files.
- Each polling place will be required by January 1, 2006 to have at least one voting machine that is fully accessible for people with disabilities.
- Each state must provide for provisional ballots to ensure that every voter is able to cast his or her vote if there is any question of eligibility to vote. There also must be a system developed to notify the voter if his or her ballot was or was not counted and if not, why not.
- Each state must develop a system that allows voters to check for errors on their ballots and make any corrections privately and independently.
HAVA also authorized a new protection and advocacy program to protect the voting rights of people with disabilities. In Colorado we call our program VOTE!
VOTE! Program activities focus on assisting people with disabilities in Colorado to register to vote, cast their vote and access their polling place. We provide outreach, information, training and technical assistance to people with disabilities designed to promote their participation in the electoral process. We are also working with election officials throughout Colorado to assist them in meeting their disability-related requirements under HAVA.
Funding for the VOTE! Program is authorized udder HAVA and provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Developmental Disabilities.