The Help America Vote Act, or more commonly known as HAVA, is a federal piece of legislation which was passed in the House of Representatives at a 357-48 vote and a 92-2 vote in the Senate. The Help America Vote Act was signed by President George W. Bush on October 29, 2002. The Help America Vote Act was passed, in essence, as a response to the controversy which surrounded the 2000 United States Presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush.
The 2000 election, as it is famously remembered for, was delayed weeks because of a miscount and an archaic system used by the state of Florida. That being said, HAVA was passed to overhaul the paper-based dimple systems and replace them with a more efficiency voting register. The goals of the Help America Vote Act are as follows:
- HAVA replaced punch-card and lever-based voting systems–these systems were time-consuming and perpetuated problems associated with miscounting. HAVA replaced these archaic voting systems with an electronic voting register that facilitates the voter’s intended selection.
- HAVA also created the Election Assistance Commission, which is a federal agency, developed to assist in the organization of Federal elections.
- Lastly, the Help America Vote Act established minimum election administration standards.
During the 2000 election nearly two million ballots were disqualified because they registered multiple votes when entered into the outdated vote-counting machine. With the adoption of HAVA, the federal government now mandates that all localities and states upgrade all aspects of their voting register and election procedures. These upgrades are necessary on voting machines, employee training, and registration processes. The specifics of the upgrades, however, are left up to each state, which offers varying interpretations of the Federal Law.