The Help America Vote Act (Pub.L. 107–252) was developed and enacted in 2002 in an effort to, in part, prevent another election catastrophe like the one which occurred in the 2000 presidential elections. In the 2000 presidential elections, almost 2 million lever machine votes were disqualified due to the punch cards registering multiple votes or none when run through vote-counting machines.
The goals of HAVA are: to replace punch card and lever-based voting systems; creating the Election Assistance Commission to assist in the administration of Federal elections; and
establishing minimum election administration standards.
What does all this mean in terms of accessible voting for people with disabilities now and in the future? Lever style punch card machines will soon be replaced, but how and when is uncertain. Fully accessible machines can use headphones, sip and puff, foot pedals, joy sticks and other adaptive technology to provide the necessary accessibility. Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) are mandated to be present at every Federal election. Many States and even local elections also offer BMD machines in an effort to support HAVA. Yet, the old fashioned lever machines are still being used. As always, change is hard, especially when it comes to the voting process. It is a fundamental right of citizenship and the transition from the old to the new will take time. What I hope for is that the accessible machines will prove themselves and this will help to propel the United States to adopt a better voting machine with everyone in mind and, by doing so, put an end to voting segregation.
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