Help America Vote Act and Election Administration: Overview and Issues [November 26, 2014]   [open pdf - 360KB]

"The deadlocked November 2000 presidential election focused national attention on previously obscure details of election administration. Even before the U.S. Supreme Court had resolved the election in December, numerous bills to address the failings of the election system were introduced in Congress and state legislatures. The response at the federal level was the Help America Vote Act (HAVA; P.L. 107-252), enacted in 2002. HAVA created the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), established a set of election administration requirements, and provided federal funding, but did not supplant state and local control over election administration. Several issues have arisen or persisted in the years since HAVA was enacted. This report provides background information about HAVA and its provisions, the EAC, funding for the agency and for state programs to improve elections, and a number of enduring election administration issues. Some observers have criticized the EAC for being too obtrusive, or for being slow, ineffectual, or even unnecessary. Others believe that the agency is an important resource for improving the administration of elections and has been hampered by budgetary constraints and difficulties in the nomination process for commissioners. The agency has been without commissioners since 2011, although nominations to fill the four commissioner seats have been sent to the Senate. […] Thus far in the 113th Congress, two bills (H.R. 260 and H.R. 1994) have been introduced to eliminate the EAC. H.R. 3463 in the 112th Congress had similar provisions and passed in the House. Appropriations bills that passed the House for FY2014 and FY2015 included no funds for the EAC, although funding was restored in the final legislation. In contrast, two bills (H.R. 12 and H.R. 2017) introduced in this Congress would extend authorization of the agency for five years."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RS20898
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