The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law in 2002. This federal law seeks to enhance voting accessibility and provide greater confidence in the election process. HAVA provided funding to states to replace outdated voting systems, implement statewide voter registration databases, and improve the administration of elections. Furthermore, HAVA established minimum election administration standards for state and local government and created the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to provide guidance for meeting those standards.
HAVA requires that if for any reason an individual’s eligibility to vote is in question, he or she shall be permitted to cast a provisional ballot.
Military and Overseas Voting
HAVA promotes the participation of military and overseas voters covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) by establishing the following provisions:
Designates a single state office to provide absentee voting information to military and overseas voters
Requires that state and local election offices report to the EAC on absentee ballots sent and received after general elections
Prohibits the refusal of voter registration forms and absentee ballot applications based on early submission
Electronic Voting Systems
With HAVA funds, county officials were able to purchase new voting systems: the iVotronic, optical scan with automatic tabulators, and the AutoMark.
In order to meet HAVA requirements, county officials deploy at least one voting booth accessible to individuals with disabilities to each precinct.
All electronic voting systems in West Virginia are federally certified.
Statewide Voter Registration System
In 2004 West Virginia implemented its HAVA compliant voter registration system, known today as SVRS. Voter registration information across the state is entered into this database at the county level. HAVA requires that state and local election officials maintain the list of voters in the database according to the provisions of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
Title III of HAVA states that an individual meets the identification requirements for voter registration if he or she presents one of the following documents to the appropriate election official that shows the current name and address of the voter as listed on the voter registration application:
Valid photo identification
Any other official government document
In addition, HAVA allows for voters who register by mail to include a copy of one of the above documents with their voter registration form in order to meet identification requirements. If they do not present a copy of identification with their form, they may present it at the polls the first time they vote.
Election Complaint Procedures
HAVA provides for an administrative complaint procedure available to individuals who believe that they have been discriminated against or denied their right to vote.
Polling Place Accessibility
HAVA provides funds to counties to help ensure polling places are accessible to individuals with disabilities, and the Secretary of State’s Office is responsible for overseeing the grant process. Funds are used for improvements such as building ramps, paving parking areas, and widening doorways.