January 19, 2010


Schumer Asks Senate Budget Committee To Fully Fund Federal Mandates on States for Better Voter Lists, New Voting Systems and Poll Worker Training

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, has asked the Senate Budget Committee for $470 million in previously allocated funds to help states pay for the new statewide voter lists and better voting machines they are mandated to provide under the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

“Congress has passed legislation to make elections better and fairer, and it authorized money for states to carry it out,” said Schumer. “The states need help to meet the standards set up by HAVA so their local election officials can fully comply with the law.”

Since passage of HAVA, the election assistance programs that support the states’ efforts have been underfunded by $470 million, leaving local officials struggling to pay for the unfunded federal mandates.

“It is the responsibility of Congress to help ensure that the final results of federal elections are accurate, reliable, secure, and transparent. Problems brought about by insufficient funding of election reform initiatives may undermine public confidence in elections,” Schumer wrote in his March 18th letter to the Budget Committee.

The shortfall in money for state election officials occurred in fiscal years 2005-2007, when the Republican-led Congress completely eliminated the funding. HAVA was funded at $1.5 billion annually in fiscal years 2003 and 2004, to launch the program, and again in fiscal year 2008 at $115 million and in fiscal year 2009 at $100 million to assist states with implementation.

Schumer noted that the 2008 federal elections for President and Congress were unprecedented in the number of voter registration problems that disenfranchised millions of eligible voters nationwide, and that the Rules Committee may seek funding also for future election reform legislation.

On March 11, Schumer chaired a Senate Rules Committee hearing, “Voter Registration: Assessing the Problems.” It featured groundbreaking new reports of voter registration problems that resulted in up to 7 million people not casting their ballots in the 2008 Presidential election.