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WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD), who was the lead Democratic sponsor in the House of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), released the following statement today regarding the Bush Administration’s failure to fund HAVA in the proposed Fiscal Year 2007 budget:
“I am disappointed that President Bush’s FY2007 budget fails to propose the $859 million in election reform grants to states authorized by the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
“President Bush signed HAVA into law on October 29, 2002. The Act authorized $3.86 billion in election reform spending in fiscal years 2003 through 2005 to assist state and local efforts in updating their voting systems, streamlining voter registration processes, and providing voter education and poll worker training. So far, approximately $3.0 billion in HAVA grants have been appropriated.
“It is essential that the remaining funds be appropriated to make certain that states and local communities have the resources they need to successfully implement HAVA in what promises to be the most significant mid-term election in over a decade.
“My disappointment notwithstanding, I am pleased that the President’s budget proposes $17.1 million for the Election Assistance Commission to continue developing standards to improve the accessibility and security of all voting systems, as well as provide state and local election officials advice and guidance for improving their voting systems.
“As the lead House sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I am also pleased the FY2007 budget proposes over $15 million in access grants to states to help make polling places accessible for disabled voters.
“On balance, the administration missed an important opportunity to improve our own democratic system, even as it has committed the United States to advancing democracy in places like Iraq that have never known it. In the coming months, I intend to reach out to House and Senate leaders, including the new House Majority Leader, to impress upon them the importance of fully funding HAVA.
“By fully funding HAVA, we will be substantially enhancing the health of American democracy and ensuring that the United States will continue to serve as an exemplar for established and nascent democracies throughout the world.”