Frequently Asked Questions - Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA)

What is HAVA?

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) will fundamentally alter the way we conduct elections across the nation.

HAVA was drafted in the aftermath of the controversial 2000 Presidential election in Florida. HAVA was signed into law on October 29, 2002.

The final bill is a compromise embraced by a bipartisan coalition that included many election officials across the nation, civil rights groups, disabled advocates and government watchdog groups.

Complex and interrelated federal mandates are spelled out in the 161-page bill. HAVA requires California and other states to implement sweeping changes by next year - during the Presidential election cycle, the most visible election with the highest turnout.

The most daunting of the new mandates include:

  • Replacing the punch card voting systems currently used by a majority of California voters;
  • Creating an interactive statewide voter registration database of California's 15 million plus voters that will be used by every county;
  • Implementing new voter residence confirmation requirements for new voters;
  • Ensuring disabled voters have both secret ballots and access to the polls;
  • Notifying provisional voters whether their ballot was counted;
  • Creating a complaint procedure for voter grievances about the process;
  • Creating a one-stop shop for all military and overseas voters;
  • Improving training of our army of volunteer poll workers;
  • Educating voters about the process, their election choices, and their rights, including the right to a provisional ballot, the right to ask questions, and the right to get a new ballot to correct a mistake; and
  • Ensuring that voters can check their ballots and correct any errors before voting.

California's Secretary of State must write and submit a State Plan detailing how these mandates will be met. The Secretary of State held Public Hearings throughout the state during May 2003, to collect public input.

What is the State Plan?

The State Plan is a federally required document that explains to the federal Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) how California intends to comply with the thirteen specific mandates contained in the Help America Vote Act of 2002. The draft State Plan was available for public comment for 30 days, beginning June 17, 2003.

This final State Plan will be released in October 2003.

What is the California State Plan Advisory Committee?

The Secretary of State has appointed an advisory committee to provide advice to the Secretary of State about what the State Plan should include. In California, the Secretary of State directed his State Plan Advisory Committee to conduct five public hearings to gather information from the public, as well as provide its own advice to the Secretary.

Who is on the State Plan Advisory Committee?

The State Plan Advisory Committee is comprised of individuals, each selected for their experience, knowledge, expertise and because they are interested stakeholders in the elections community.