March 2004

Help America Vote Act

From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Keith Wright • Chair, Election Law Committee
Assembly’s plan earns the experts’ votes

“We applaud Speaker Silver and Assemblyman Wright for this strong package of bills concerning the Help America Vote Act. This package would help ensure that we implement this national law properly to help New Yorkers vote, and not hinder them at polls, which we are concerned may happen without proper guidance from the Legislature. We specifically highlight the bill that provides for a voter-verified paper trail as being important to ensure public trust in our electoral system. We urge swift passage by both houses on this important legislative package.”

—Rachel Leon, Executive Director, Common Cause/NY

“New York’s implementation of HAVA will determine the quality of the state’s elections for decades to come. It’s critical to the health of New York’s democracy that the state’s new election system is open and publicly accountable. NYPIRG applauds the Assembly reform package. We urge the governor and the Senate to act on this important issue.”

—Blair Horner, Legislative Director, New York Public Interest Research Group

“The Assembly’s package of HAVA bills represents a strong step forward to improve the accessibility, accuracy and administration of New York’s elections. We look forward to fighting to secure Senate passage. The Citizens’ Coalition on HAVA Implementation, which includes the Brennan Center, worked closely with Chairman Wright and the staff of the Election Law Committee to develop the legislation...”

—Jeremy Creelan, Associate Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law

“This package of legislation to implement the Help America Vote Act ensures that federal guidelines are secured and election reform in New York State will be fairly and fully implemented so that all voters will be given the opportunity to exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

—Aimee Allaud, Elections/Government Specialist, League of Women Voters of New York State

Assembly works to modernize elections

Florida’s dysfunctional voting system during the 2000 presidential election highlighted the need to overhaul the nation’s voting process. It’s quite obvious that our election system relies on antiquated equipment and procedures. Modernizing and improving our electoral process will ensure voter confidence and encourage broader participation.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 is a federal program designed to help states create a uniform, computerized voter registration list and assist states with establishing standardized, electronic voting machines. In order to receive federal funds, each state must design a plan, pass enabling legislation, and appropriate state funds to meet HAVA requirements. The process must also include citizen participation and public review.

Assembly creates plan to prepare New York for 21st century voting

The Assembly passed a legislative package that makes New York eligible to receive federal funding to modernize the election process – ensuring New York’s compliance with HAVA. Specifically, the package would:

  • consolidate election operations at the county level – ensuring elections are run consistently and polling places are adequately staffed with well-trained workers (A.8833-B);
  • create a computerized, centralized, interactive statewide voter registration list with proper privacy protections – ensuring that voters get in and out of the polls quickly, votes are recorded accurately, and voter fraud is prevented (A.8842-A);
  • ban punch ballots and require the statewide adoption of a single type of electronic voting machine that will be accessible to all citizens – including persons with disabilities and voters with limited English proficiency – and easily audited in order to assure voter confidence. In particular, the bill requires voting machines to produce and retain an anonymous, voter-verifiable paper record, which the voter will review and confirm (A.8847-A);
  • provide for an administrative complaint procedure administered by the state Board of Elections (A.8841-A); and
  • establish basic guidelines to ensure the disabled community has access to polling sites (A.5473-A).

It is the Assembly’s goal to adopt a system that works for the voters. We can help increase voter turnout and empower all New Yorkers with a voting process that is reliable and user-friendly. Elections are the lifeblood of our democracy, but they are meaningless without public trust. The Assembly’s package will help ensure voter confidence in New York elections.

The Assembly Internet Information Service is available to those interested in receiving timely legislative updates by e-mail.
To subscribe to this service, please drop us a line at, indicating your area of interest. (The Assembly Internet Information Service will not release, sell or give away a subscriber’s e-mail address, name or any other information provided without express permission from the subscriber. Each e-mail notice or newsletter will contain simple instructions for removing your name from the mailing list if you decide you no longer wish to subscribe.)

New York State Assembly
[ Welcome Page ] [ Committee Updates ]