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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer released the following statement today regarding reports that 19 states will miss the January 1, 2006 deadline for complying with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Hoyer was the lead House Democratic sponsor of HAVA.
“I am disappointed by reports that 19 states – more than a third of the country – will not be in compliance with the Help America Vote Act of 2002 by January 1.
“As one of the chief architects of this legislation, I can attest to the careful consideration given to when HAVA should take full effect. After much deliberation and consultation with state and local election officials, January 1, 2006 was determined to be a reasonable deadline to meet all of HAVA’s requirements, including the complex requirement of statewide registration lists.
“Although Congress has provided significant funding ($3 billion) to assist the states, we have failed to fully provide the promised $3.8 billion in election reform grants. I believe that it is crucial for our federal government to fulfill that promise, and I will work next year to persuade Congress to honor it.
“According to the National Association of Secretaries of State, which conducted the survey, all but two states will have their statewide registration systems in place by the first federal elections of 2006. While this offers some consolation, it is not enough. For statewide registration systems to be most effective at facilitating the vote for every eligible voter and preventing potential fraud, they must be in place throughout the election season. I will watch very closely in the coming months to see if those states that miss the January 1 deadline come into compliance by the time they hold their first federal primaries.
“Next November’s election promises to be the most significant mid-term election year since 1994. It is therefore crucial that state and local election officials join together in carrying out their obligations under HAVA to prevent a repeat of the 2000 election debacle in Florida.
“For our democracy’s health, Congress cannot forget the lessons of the 2000 presidential election and neglect its role in ensuring that elections are fair, accessible, and secure.”