June 13, 2003
Dear Member of Congress,
We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to appropriate the full amount authorized under the “Help America Vote Act” (P.L. 107-252) for fiscal years 2003 and 2004. The “Help America Vote Act” authorizes a total of $3.9 billion over three fiscal years to help states and local governments fix their broken electoral systems, including $2.16 billion in FY03 and $1.045 billion in FY04, and the law passed with overwhelmingly bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. Earlier this year, Congress made a significant down payment to help this reform begin to take place, when it appropriated $1.5 billion for FY03. Now it is essential that Congress follow through completely on its commitment to making election reform a reality, by providing the remaining $1.7 billion in funds for FY03 and FY04 that our state and local governments nationwide so urgently need.
Immediate full funding is essential to enable states and local governments to complete the implementation of these important reforms that they are now required to make under the new law. Given the extremely difficult fiscal circumstances facing state and local governments, strong support at the federal level is critical. If our nation is to ensure that every American can vote and have that vote counted on election day, then Congress must fulfill its role by providing the full funding necessary to make this possible.
Even once additional funds have been appropriated, the promises of the “Help America Vote Act” will ring hollow unless the creation of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) ? the new federal agency charged with implementing the new law and distributing funds to the states ? is promptly completed. We hope that you will urge that the commissioners be officially nominated and confirmed in a timely fashion, so that further delays can be avoided.
Nothing is more fundamental to America’s democracy than the right to vote. As our nation spends billions of dollars helping to promote democracies abroad, Congress must also meet the challenge of bolstering our own democracy by appropriating the funds that are essential to allow states to transform their voting systems. In passing the “Help America Vote Act,” Congress called upon the states and local governments to make polling places accessible to people with disabilities and language minorities; create statewide voter registration databases that can be more effectively managed and updated; improve ballot review procedures by allowing voters to ensure that the ballots they cast are accurate; create provisional balloting systems to guarantee that no eligible voter is ever turned away at the polls; replace outdated voting systems; and educate voters on voting procedures as well as their rights.
We thank you for your work to secure implementation of the “Help America Vote Act,” and we look forward to working with you to ensure full funding. Should you have any questions about this critical issue, please feel free to contact any of the organizations listed below.
Organizations Representing State & Local Officials
National Association of Secretaries of State
National Conference of State Legislatures
Council of State Governments
National Association of State Election Directors
National Association of Counties
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund (NALEO)
National League of Cities
International City/County Management Association
International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers
National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks
Civil Rights Organizations
Alliance for Retired Americans
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Federation of Labor ? Congress of Industrial Organizations
Americans for Democratic Action
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Asian Pacific American Legal Center
Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now
Benjamin E. Mays Center
Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
Cuban American National Council, Inc.
Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action
General Board of Church and Society, The United Methodist Church
Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda
Georgia Kids Against Pollution
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
League of Women Voters of the United States
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees
National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems
National Council of Churches
National Council of La Raza
National Federation of the Blind
New York Public Interest Research Group
Organization of Chinese Americans
Paralyzed Veterans of America
People For the American Way
United Auto Workers
U.S. Action Education Fund
U.S. Public Interest Research Group