Help America Vote Act (HAVA)

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is an item of United States federal election law signed in to law on October 29, 2002 by President Bush. Under HAVA, a new federal voter registration form was created. HAVA guarantees the ability of individuals to cast a provisional ballot and have the validity of their registration checked later if they do not appear on voter registration rolls.

Main Points of HAVA

The law encourages states to replace punch card and lever voting machines and requires:

  1. Voters to show ID before voting
  2. States to provide provisional ballots for voters whose registration status is unclear when they arrive to vote
  3. States to provide a way for those with impaired vision or hearing to cast a secret ballot
  4. States to make polling locations and voting machines accessible to voters with physical disabilities
  5. Voting machines to allow voters to verify ballots before they are cast
  6. Voters be able to correct a mistake or leave a blank, i.e., not cast a vote in a particular contest
  7. Voting systems to leave a record that can be audited
  8. Voting systems to leave a permanent paper record that can be used as an official record should a recount become necessary
  9. That states, in some cases, provide ballots for voters who don’t speak English
  10. States to create and maintain electronic voter registration databases and improve efforts to remove ineligible voters from the registration rolls
  11. States to offer sample ballots for voters to review before the date of the election
  12. Absentee voters to provide copies of IDs or an ID number for voter verification, but states must maintain the secrecy of the vote