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:
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.
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.
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.
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.