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Secretary Land Announces Help America Vote Act Advisory Committee

Image of Help America Vote Act (HAVA) red, white and blue logo

March 20, 2003

Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land today announced the formation of an advisory committee responsible for assisting with the "state plan" which Michigan is required to file under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). Michigan must file a state plan in order to qualify for the federal funds available to assist states in meeting the requirements of the act.

The Help America Vote Act is a new federal law that seeks to strengthen the states' election processes by improving access at the polls, replacing old voting equipment and making it easier for citizens with disabilities and overseas military personnel to vote.

Secretary Land noted that the members of the State Plan Advisory Committee were carefully selected to ensure representation by all who maintain a stake in Michigan's elections process, including the public, the political party organizations, Michigan's election administrators, disability groups, business and labor. Care was also taken to ensure the state's diverse geographical regions, such as the Upper Peninsula, were represented.

"Michigan has always taken a pro-active stance on election issues, and as a result, is known as a national leader in elections administration," Secretary Land said. "We are already ahead of the curve because we currently have many programs that satisfy HAVA requirements, such as the QVF and our voter information programs.

"To successfully prepare a state plan that meets Michigan's needs and fulfills the HAVA requirements, we must continue to work together and think progressively."

At the federal level, HAVA creates an Election Assistance Commission - an independent agency responsible for advising election authorities and distributing federal "requirements payments" to the states once the state plan has been filed. The state plan must be developed with the input of an advisory committee appointed by the chief elections official and must include how the state will: meet technology and election administration requirements; budget and monitor the funds it receives; adopt voting system guidelines consistent with the new federal requirements; educate voters and poll workers; adopt performance measures; and meet other specified requirements and criteria.

In addition to today's meeting, five more Advisory Committee meetings have been scheduled to date. It is anticipated the state plan will be submitted no later than July 1, 2003.

"It is important that Michigan's state plan be drawn up after full input is received from all involved," Secretary Land said. "Public testimony will be encouraged and welcomed at the committee meetings." Secretary Land emphasized the importance of the Advisory Committee's work as HAVA will result in significant election-related changes in Michigan. "Everyone must work together to ensure the new federal mandates are implemented in ways that make the most sense for the state."

President Bush signed HAVA into law Oct. 29, 2002. The federal legislation creates many new mandates for state and local governments and provides a total of $3.9 billion in possible federal funding for all states. To date, Congress has only appropriated $1.5 billion in funding. Michigan hopes to receive between $40 million and $50 million in grant funds under the new federal law. Approximately $6.8 million of the grant funds are earmarked for the replacement of outdated voting equipment.

Information about the HAVA can be found on the web sites maintained by the Department of State at www.michigan.gov/hava, and the Federal Election Commission at www.fec.gov.

> List of Advisory Committee members
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