A Call for Funding for the Help America Vote Act

A Call for Funding for the Help America Vote Act of 2002

On October 29, 2002, the President signed into law the Help America Vote Act - legislation that represents an unprecedented overhaul of our nation's voting system and affects military and civilian voters both within and outside the United States.

The next immediate priority is to appropriate the necessary funding. While the legislation calls for some $3 billion in funding to the states, no funds were appropriated by the 107th Congress. The appropriations process will head the agenda when the 108th Congress convenes early in 2003.

From the point of view of overseas voters, both military and civilian, the most important change under the new law which is conditional upon funding is the creation by each state of a statewide voter registration database, with far-reaching potential for overseas voters. When all states have such a facility in operation, the way will be open to improve statistical reporting on overseas voting and to centralize overseas voting in a single state office, both of which are called for in the new law. The development of these statewide databases and accurate statistics, helping to further refine the electoral process in the future, together with the extension of the period covered by our registration from overseas to two federal election cycles, will enable us to broaden our voter base rather than having to reconquer it every year. The Act sets January 1, 2004 as the deadline for having each state database operational, but no money has yet been appropriated.

While not contingent on the states' acceptance of federal funds (and therefore Congressional appropriations), the setting up of the single state office to provide information on registration and absentee ballot procedures for all voters will require not only financing but also guidelines for implementation.

It is the new Election Assistance Commission called for in the legislation which will formulate these guidelines. Presidential appointments must be made to set up this body together with a Standards Board and a Board of Advisers. It is this new mechanism that opens the way for recommendations to the President and the Congress about further actions to help overseas voters. The law requires the President to make the Commission appointments within 120 days of its enactment. This would set the deadline at the end of February.

Also dependent on funding and the appointment of the Commission are studies on expanded use of electronic registration and voting, obviously of great benefit to the overseas population.

In view of the above, the following non-partisan organizations of overseas Americans call on the United States Congress to appropriate the funding required for the implementation of this crucial legislation, which is of vital importance to the democratic process in the United States.
We also urge the President to make the necessary appointments as quickly as possible, in order to put implementation of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 on track.

ENDORSING ORGANIZATIONS

AARO (Association of Americans Resident Overseas): founded in 1973, with 950 members in 23 countries

AAWE (Association of American Wives of Europeans): Paris-based organization founded in 1961, with 600 members in 12 countries

AAWI (Association of American Women in Ireland), based in Dublin

ABCGC (American Business Council of the Gulf Countries): founded in 1987, grouping 9 American Chambers of Commerce in the Gulf States

ACA (American Citizens Abroad): Geneva-based organization with close to 2,000 members in over 50 countries

ACA Canada ( Canadian affiliate of American Citizens Abroad)

ALLAMO (Alliance of American Organizations - Spain & Portugal): 5,000 members throughout the Iberian penninsula

American Club of Lyon: 460 members representing Americans living in the Rhone-Alpes Region of France

American Club of Madrid, Spain

American Club of Paris: 480 members in the greater Paris area

American Club of Stockholm: 460 members residing and working in the greater Stockholm area

ECACC (European Council of American Chambers of Commerce): present in 29 countries in Eastern and Western Europe

FAWCO (Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas, Inc.): founded in 1931, with 18,000 members in 76 independent organizations in 35 countries around the world

Navy League - Madrid Council

Joined by:
Republicans Abroad Europe
Democrats Abroad


Lucy L., U.S. Liaison

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