Election Reform: Support the Dodd-McConnell Amendment

Media 10.23.03

Recipient: Senators

Dear Senator,

We, the undersigned organizations, strongly urge you to support an amendment to be offered by Senators Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to increase funding for the Help America Vote Act (P.L. 107-252) (“HAVA”) in H.R. 2989, the FY 2004 Treasury-Transportation Appropriations bill. The Dodd-McConnell amendment will increase the level of HAVA funding in that bill from $500 million to $1.5 billion. We ask that you vote in favor of the amendment and vote against any Budget Act point of order that may be raised.

The Help America Vote Act was enacted with overwhelmingly bipartisan support in order to prevent the many problems of the 2000 election from ever happening again. Among its many reforms, it places significant mandates upon states and localities to replace outdated voting equipment, create statewide voter registration lists and provide provisional ballots to ensure that eligible voters are not turned away, and make it easier for people with disabilities to cast private, independent ballots.

To help pay for these reforms, HAVA authorizes a total of $3.9 billion over three fiscal years, including $2.16 billion for FY03 and $1.045 billion for FY04. To date, however, the actual funding of HAVA has been woefully inadequate. So far, only $1.5 billion of FY03 funding has been appropriated, and $830 million of that amount has yet to reach the states because the President has nominated and the Senate has not confirmed the members of the new Election Assistance Commission. Additionally, only $500 million is currently included in pending FY04 appropriations; once again, this is a sum that falls well below what is needed for successful implementation of HAVA. States and localities were assured by Congress that this new law would not evolve into a set of unfunded federal mandates. It is now time for Congress to honor its commitment to the states and to the American public at large.

Given the difficult fiscal circumstances facing state and local governments, immediate and full funding of HAVA is now needed in order to make essential progress before Election Day in 2004. Without the strong leadership that HAVA promised at the federal level, states and local governments simply do not have the ability to complete implementation of the important reforms that they are now required to make.

No civil right 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 simply should not allow doubts about the legitimacy of our electoral processes continue to linger here at home.

We thank you for your support of funding for the “Help America Vote Act,” and we look forward to working with you on this critical issue. Should you have any questions, please contact Rob Randhava of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights at (202) 466-6058, Leslie Reynolds of the National Association of Secretaries of State at (202) 624-3525, or any of the individual 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
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 Civil Liberties Union
American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations
Americans for Democratic Action
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Law Caucus
Asian Pacific American Legal Center
Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now
Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
California Council for the Blind
Center for Governmental Studies
Center for Voting and Democracy
Common Cause
Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
League of Women Voters of the United States
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
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
Neighbor to Neighbor Action Fund
Organization of Chinese Americans
People For the American Way
Project Vote
Public Citizen
The Arc of the United States
United Auto Workers
United Cerebral Palsy
U.S. Action Education Fund
U.S. Public Interest Research Group