The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 has required all states to implement a single, uniform, centralized, computerized statewide voter registration list and to define, maintain, and administer this list at the state level.
Implementation of this statewide voter registration system was mandated by January 1, 2004, or by January 1, 2006 with an extension from Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The Secretary of State (SOS) requested and was granted that extension. In January 2005, the SOS began communications with the United States Department of Justice (U.S. DOJ) seeking guidance concerning compliance with the statewide voter registration requirements of HAVA.
Under the existing Calvoter system, the elections official of each of the 58 counties maintains voter files separately. Calvoter contains a copy of the county voter records kept current by daily updates from the counties. New voter records cannot be entered directly into Calvoter. Additions, changes, and deletions of voter information identified by the Calvoter system cannot be applied directly to the Calvoter database. County data cannot be directly updated from the state data; any changes or corrections made to the state data will be overwritten by county updates.
On November 2, 2005, the SOS and the U.S. DOJ entered into an agreement that provided the SOS would immediately complete development and begin implementation of an interim plan. That plan utilized an enhanced Calvoter system, pending development and completion of the new VoteCal Statewide Voter Registration System. Included with the agreement were draft regulations designed to establish standards and procedures for processing, transmitting, and maintaining voter registration records in conformance with HAVA.
The SOS selected a strategy of building a bottom-up system that will work with the existing county election management systems (EMS) to form an integrated solution for processing and managing voter registration. The bottom-up approach will help minimize disruption to county business processes and provide a smoother transition from current to future business processes.
The VoteCal system will enable California to comply with HAVA general system requirements. In addition, counties and their vendors will be required to modify their specific EMS and business processes in order to support this new system and comply with federal HAVA mandates. The new VoteCal system will require immediate update of voter registration data in the central system as it is entered by the counties and list maintenance activities will be standardized.