House Passes Historic Election Reform Legislation

Oct 12, 2002
(Washington, D.C.)–Last night, Congressman Jim Langevin voted in favor of, and the U.S. House of Representatives passed, historic election reform legislation that will establish new minimum standards to reform the nation’s election system and provide states with $3.8 billion to implement them.  

The “Help America Vote Act of 2002" (HR 3295) is the most significant civil rights legislation since the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Rhode Island recognized the need for a modernized voting system well before the fiasco that emerged from Florida in 2000,” said Congressman Langevin, former Rhode Island Secretary of State.  “Rather than be penalized for initiating election reform before the rest of the country, I am proud that, thanks to a group effort, Rhode Island will be able to improve upon a national model of excellence for voting systems.  This bipartisan legislation also establishes minimum standards for state election systems by requiring a statewide voter registration system and provisional voting and by mandating that new equipment purchased with federal funds must provide access to disabled voters.”

Thanks to the efforts of Congressman Langevin, states may apply for funds from a $100 million Access Grant program over the next three years to help increase access to polling places by individuals with disabilities.  States may also apply for funds to provide at least one voting machine in each precinct that allows a disabled voter to cast a vote in a private and independent manner. This requirement would take effect in 2004, but states could obtain waivers to delay its applicability until 2006.

"As a former Secretary of State, Jim Langevin brought invaluable experience to the crafting of federal election reform legislation," said Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD), ranking member of the House Administration Committee.  "He was a key voice in shaping the civil rights and disability rights protections that are an integral part of the Help America Vote Act.  He also worked to guarantee that states that had already modernized their election systems were not penalized for their foresight.  I appreciate all his hard work and help over the past two years on this issue which is so important our democratic process."

 The “Help America Vote Act” authorizes unprecedented federal assistance - $3.8 billion over three years - to help states improve and upgrade every aspect of their election systems.  This funding will help replace outdated voting equipment, train poll workers, educate voters, upgrade