WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD), a lead sponsor of landmark, bipartisan election reform legislation in 2002 (the “Help America Vote Act”), today expressed extreme disappointment in the President’s FY05 budget request for election reform and urged Members on both sides of the aisle to support full funding for the Act:
“A little over three years ago, this nation lived through an election nightmare that Democrats and Republicans never want to repeat. In response to the election debacle of 2000, Congress decisively acted to reform our election system by passing the bipartisan ‘Help America Vote Act’ in 2002.
“Now is not the time for complacency or backsliding – not when our nation is staring at another national election just 10 months from now. Now is the time for Democrats and Republicans to finish the job that we began – together – in the wake of that historic election, and to fully fund the Help America Vote Act and help our states modernize their election systems.
“Unfortunately, today, President Bush fails to live up to the commitment that Congress recognized and embraced when it passed this historic legislation. The President’s budget calls for only $40 million for election reform funding while the Help America Vote Act calls for $800 million this year to fully fund this legislation. The $3.86 billion that was authorized by HAVA is based on a careful, conservative estimate of the cost to reform our election system nationwide and is not a number plucked from thin air.
“I am pleased however, that the President recognized the importance of the Election Assistance Commission to the success of our election reform efforts and proposed adequate funds [$10 million] in his fiscal year 2005 budget.
“Everyone recognizes that, at a time of record budget deficits, we are competing for scarce federal dollars. However, protecting this most fundamental right – the right to vote and the right to have one’s vote counted – is so basic to public confidence in our democracy that we must not overlook it. In the months ahead, I intend to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that this legislation is fully funded, that the states receive the election assistance the federal government promised them, and that our election system operates smoothly in November.”