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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD), the chief Democratic sponsor in the House of Representatives of the landmark “Help America Vote Act (HAVA),” released the following statement today after sending a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua Bolten calling on the Bush Administration to propose full funding for HAVA in its Fiscal Year 2007 budget proposal, which will be submitted to Congress in February after next week’s State of the Union Address by President Bush:
“Three years ago, Congress passed the ‘Help America Vote Act of 2002’ to correct the failures of our nation’s election system that became apparent in the election debacle of 2000 and to ensure that every vote counts.
“This landmark, comprehensive legislation did two things: First, it mandates new standards for the conduct of elections. And second, it promises the states $3.8 billion to implement those standards.
“To date, Congress has appropriated only $3 billion. While that constitutes a significant down payment for election reform, Congress must fulfill its obligation and appropriate the remaining $835 million so the states can complete implementation of HAVA.
“To advance that goal, I sent a letter today to OMB Budget Director Joshua Bolten calling on the White House to include full funding for HAVA in its FY2007 budget proposal, which will be sent to Congress early next month.
“This 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 have the resources to carry out their obligations under HAVA to prevent a repeat of the 2000 national election, in which millions of ballots were not counted and many other impediments to voting came to light.
“A fair, accurate and transparent election system is absolutely critical to America’s democracy. I hope the Administration and Congress will complete the reform effort that we have begun.”
Below is the text of the letter to OMB Director Joshua Bolten:
January 23, 2006
Joshua B. Bolten
Office of Management and Budget
Executive Office Building
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503
Dear Mr. Bolten,
I am writing to request that $859 million in election reform funding be included in the President’s budget for Fiscal Year 2007. It is essential that these FY07 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. I urge you to lend your support to this effort.
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 funds have been appropriated.
We have an obligation to every American to ensure that our Nation’s election system is one that will inspire pride and confidence. This is especially important at this moment when the United States is helping to the lay the foundation for democratic rule in Iraq. We will have failed in our duty, however, if we do not provide state and local governments with the resources they need to make vital improvements to our country’s election infrastructure. 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.
Thank you for your attention and with kindest regards, I am
STENY H. HOYER