States' voting systems not ready for November

The deadline reported by the Federal Election Commission for states to comply with three specific requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was January 1, 2006:
  • Each state and jurisdiction was required to comply with the voting systems requirements in Section 301 (voting systems standards providing vote verification and correction opportunities).

  • States needed to implement a computerized statewide voter registration database.

  • All punchcard and lever machines were to be replaced in states accepting Section 102 payments who qualified for a waiver of the original deadline (January 1, 2004).

According to a recently released report by the electionline.org, described in their press release (pdf) as providing information on the election changes in each of the 50 states over the past five years, "The lack of progress in nearly half of the states throws into doubt whether HAVA’s goals can be achieved in time for the November 2006 vote."

The report expressed concerns about the reliability of electronic voting machines and the paper audit trail requirements; the questionable legality of required identification of all voters; the capabilties, functions and designs of statewide voter registration databases or lack thereof; and provisional ballots and determinations of eligibility and different state-to-state counting rules. The press release quoted Doug Chapin, director of the non-partisan group:
In a number of states, the lack of HAVA compliance is the result of inaction on the part of elected officials. Other states have tried to take action, but have had their efforts hindered by other barriers.

Election Reform: What's Changed, What Hasn't and Why 2000-2006
(available in pdf, 4.8MB, from electionline.org)

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