Hoyer, Ney Praise Voting Reform Funds In FY04 Omnibus

House Minority Whip Hoyer and House Administration Chairman Ney today lauded the passage of the FY04 omnibus appropriations bill for its inclusion of a $1.5 billion earmark to help fund the 2002 Help America Vote Act, which they co-sponsored.

"The money is not completely there, but it's on track," said Ney. To date, the act has received $3 billion of the $3.86 billion originally authorized, prompted by the 2000 presidential election recount debacle.

The legislation set a 2006 deadline for states to enact voting reform, including voter identification and provisional ballot requirements to account for more accurate and timely vote counts. It also authorized high school and college programs to help generate voter turnout among young voters.

According to Hoyer, Tuesday's Democratic primary in New Hampshire will be the "first real test" of the law. However, slow enactment of the measure, as well as lagging efforts on both sides of the aisle to appoint members to the new Election Assistance Commission -- which has the responsibility to oversee election reform activities and allocate federal funds -- does not bode well for a smooth transition.

While $3 billion in funds have been appropriated, Hoyer said only 20 percent of funds have made it "out the door." Hoyer and Ney have worked throughout the past year to ensure the law did not become a so-called unfunded mandate, and said they are committed to working with the commission to get the money out to the states, as well as pushing for the final $900 million in funding in next year's appropriations process to meet the 2006 deadline.