FAQ

FAQ Categories

About EAC

Voting System Certification

Voters

Moving & Registering To Vote

National Voter Registration Act

National Mail Voter Registration Form

Form

Voting System Testing and Certification

Voting Systems Map

Research

Election Administration and Voting Survey

HAVA Section 251, 101, 102 Funds

Completing Federal Financial Report

Completing the Federal Financial Report

Voting Systems/Equipment Purchases

Capital Improvements

General Purpose Equipment/Furniture

Vehicle Purchases

Voting Systems (Special Purpose Equipment)

Conference Attendance

Voter Education & Voting Officials Training

Food Purchases

Accessibility/ADA Compliance

Affirmative Action Compliance

Accounting (Recordkeeping & Reporting)

Enforcement

Matching Funds

Miscellaneous

Legal Advice

Equipment

Accessibility

2010 Accessible Voting Technology Initiative

FOIA

FOIA

Questions & Answers

About EAC

Voting System Certification

A question about Voting?

Yes. That's correct.

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In the current guidelines, what is the minimum font size for paper ballots?What section of the guidelines establishes the size?

Font size is addressed in several areas of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG), mostly in the accessibility section of VVSG 1.0 (https://www.eac.gov/assets/1/28/VVSG.1.0_Volume_1.PDF -  See sections 3 & 7) and VVSG 1.1 (https://www.eac.gov/assets/1/28/VVSG.1.1.VOL.1.FINAL1.pdf - See sections 3 & 7).

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Voters

Moving & Registering To Vote

I've moved recently. Can I still vote?

Yes; you can certainly vote after a recent move, but you may need to update your voter registration with your local election office. Read these frequently asked questions to learn more.

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Does my voter registration move with me?

No. If you move within your existing county, you must complete a new voter registration form to update your new address. If you move to a different county or state, you must re-register with your new county and/or state. To find this information, visit your state election office’s Web site.

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How do I change my dad's mailing address for his ballot but keep his residential address the same for voting purposes? My dad has Alzheimer's, so I'm receiving all of his mail now; he is no longer receiving any mail at his residence. I am his POA.

State election laws differ regarding who can assist voters and under what circumstances. You will need to contact your local election office for the district where your father legally resides (not where you reside). The election office can advise you on what a POA is or is not permitted to do on behalf of a registered voter.

 

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Hi, I recently moved from Los Angeles (CA) to Philadelphia (PA). I was a registered voter in CA and have since registered as a voter in PA. Do I need to contact the election office in CA to cancel my voter registration? Or it's done automatically?

No. You must contact the state board of elections, for California, at 800-345-8683,  to let them know you are registered to vote in PA and remove your name from the CA registration.

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Can I be registered in more than one location (I have a weekend home in PA and my primary residence is NY) ??

No.  You can only be registered to vote in one state and that would be your primary residence.

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National Voter Registration Act

What is the National Form?

The National Mail Voter Registration Form consists of four parts: 

  • The Application
  • The General Instructions
  • The Application Instructions
  • The State Instructions 

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Who can use the National Form?

Any U.S. citizen residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia may use this form, with the following exceptions:

North Dakota, Wyoming and U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam) do not accept this form. New Hampshire accepts the form only as a request for an absentee ballot.

Uniformed service members and overseas voters should not use this form to register to vote. Instead, they should fill out the Federal Post Card Application, available at www.fvap.gov.

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Do I need to show proof of identification when I vote if I registered using the National Form?

If you are voting for the first time in your state and are registering by mail, Federal law may require you to show proof of identification the first time you vote.  This proof of identification includes the following (or if voting by mail, a COPY of the following):

A current and valid photo identification; OR
A current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or government document that shows your name and address.

Federal law does not require you to show proof of identification at the polling place or when voting by mail if (1) you provided COPIES of the above with your National Mail Voter Registration Form; (2) your voter registration form has been verified by an election official; or (3) you are entitled by federal law to vote by absentee ballot.  Please note that individual states may have additional voter identification requirements.

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Which part of the National Form do I need to mail in?

You need to mail in only the one-page application.

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What can I do if my registration form is rejected?

If you feel your registration form was unjustly rejected, contact your local election official. You may also contact the voting section of the Department of Justice at (800) 253-3931, or your state’s Attorney General’s office.

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Which part of the National Form do I need to mail in?

You need to mail in only the one-page application.

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What can I do if my registration form is rejected?

If you feel your registration form was unjustly rejected, contact your local election official. You may also contact the voting section of the Department of Justice at (800) 253-3931, or your state’s Attorney General’s office.

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How can I make sure my registration form is accepted?

Make sure you fill in all information requested in the form completely, accurately and legibly. Place it in an envelope, and affix the proper amount of postage to it.

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How can I be sure my form was processed, and I’m registered to vote?

After you’ve submitted your registration form, you should receive a confirmation that you are registered within a few weeks. If you do not receive a confirmation, call your local election office before the registration deadline approaches to confirm you are registered. 

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Can the National Form be photocopied?

Yes. States that accept the National form will accept copies of the application printed from the computer image on regular paper stock, signed by the applicant, and mailed in an envelope with first class postage.

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Can my organization supply just the applications and simply provide the instructions separately as hand-outs or on posters?

Registration Form, you may want to furnish a supply of only the voter registration applications either, printed on card stock according to the FEC specifications, or produced on 8.5' x 11’ regular weight paper. Be sure to include envelopes with the regular weight applications. The General and State Instructions could then either be photocopied and handed out with each application, or enlarged and posted at the registration site.

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I’m organizing a massive voter registration drive. Is there a limit to the number of applications I can copy?

No. Voter registration groups may make as many copies of the National Mail Voter Registration Form as they would like. Furthermore, there is no limit on the number of completed forms a voter registration group may submit to local election offices. However, voter registration groups should endeavor to institute quality control measures to make sure each completed registration application they deliver to their local election offices is filled in completely and legibly.

It's also worth noting that the number of Voter Registration Forms that a state distributes is usually at the discretion of the state's chief election official. Many states base the number of forms they distribute on the size of the target population of the proposed registration drive, method of distribution, number of individuals registered by the organization in any previous voter registration drive and a number of other variables. 

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Can my organization mail the completed Forms we receive in our registration drive, or do the individuals need to mail them personally?If we can mail them, do they have to be individually stamped or can they be bundled?

An organization may mail completed Voter Registration Applications to the appropriate election office(s) individually or in a bundle. The Department of Justice interprets the cost of first class postage to fall into the realm of "facilitating" voter registration, and not as an attempt to induce an individual to register to vote by giving something of value, which would be prohibited by the "vote buying" provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

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National Mail Voter Registration Form

Form

I have moved and I want to change my address for voting. I will probably be voting in a different area.

There are several ways you can update your voter registration and many states now allow you to do this online.
 
The first method we recommend is visiting your state website. Some states allow for online registration and updates to your registration, while others require you to print out a form and mail it in. Find your state and registration information here: https://www.eac.gov/voters/register-and-vote-in-your-state/
 
Alternatively, you can use the National Mail Voter Registration form. Visit our website (https://www.eac.gov/voters/national-mail-voter-registration-form/) and make sure you follow the instructions specific to your state to register or update your registration information.
 
If you are going to the DMV to change your address on your license, you can also select to register or update your voter registration information on the forms you fill out while you are there.

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HOW DO I CHANGE MY ADDRESS

There are several ways you can update your voter registration and many states now allow you to do this online.
 
The first method we recommend is visiting your state website. Some states allow for online registration and updates to your registration, while others require you to print out a form and mail it in. Find your state and registration information here: https://www.eac.gov/voters/register-and-vote-in-your-state/
 
Alternatively, you can use the National Mail Voter Registration form. Visit our website (https://www.eac.gov/voters/national-mail-voter-registration-form/) and make sure you follow the instructions specific to your state to register or update your registration information.
 
If you are going to the DMV to change your address on your license, you can also select to register or update your voter registration information on the forms you fill out while you are there.

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I moved from one address to another within the same state and need to do a change of address registration with the EAC. How may I do this? Can this be done on line?

There are several ways you can update your voter registration and many states now allow you to do this online.
 
The first method we recommend is visiting your state website. Some states allow for online registration and updates to your registration, while others require you to print out a form and mail it in. Find your state and registration information here: https://www.eac.gov/voters/register-and-vote-in-your-state/
 
Alternatively, you can use the National Mail Voter Registration form. Visit our website (https://www.eac.gov/voters/national-mail-voter-registration-form/) and make sure you follow the instructions specific to your state to register or update your registration information.
 
If you are going to the DMV to change your address on your license, you can also select to register or update your voter registration information on the forms you fill out while you are there.

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What do we do when we move? Is there a change of address option?

There are several ways you can update your voter registration and many states now allow you to do this online.
 
The first method we recommend is visiting your state website. Some states allow for online registration and updates to your registration, while others require you to print out a form and mail it in. Find your state and registration information here: https://www.eac.gov/voters/register-and-vote-in-your-state/
 
Alternatively, you can use the National Mail Voter Registration form. Visit our website (https://www.eac.gov/voters/national-mail-voter-registration-form/) and make sure you follow the instructions specific to your state to register or update your registration information.
 
If you are going to the DMV to change your address on your license, you can also select to register or update your voter registration information on the forms you fill out while you are there.

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How to inform you of the death of a loved one and cancel their voting mail and registration?

Contact your state or county, because certain states receive notification from other state agencies while other's require notification from family. 
 
The contact info for each state is available here: https://www.eac.gov/voters/election-day-contact-information/

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I am temporarily living in another country. My address was incorrectly changed to WA state because we have mail shipping through WA. How do I change my address without changing my voting state? It is incorrectly showing WA state instead of SC.

Please reach out to the county elections office in the state you were registered in and still want to be registered in and tell them what happened. It sounds like South Carolina is the correct state so I did a quick search on https://www.scvotes.org/ for a contact number for the South Carolina Election Commission and I found this number: Main: (803) 734-9060.

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Hello, I was looking for the numbers of polling places by state, and I could not find comprehensive data for that in the EAC 2016 report. Could you point me to that information? Thank you.

That can be found in the 2016 EAVS dataset. It is in section D, specifically question D2a. 

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Voting System Testing and Certification

Voting Systems Map

What does an EAC certification mean?

An EAC certified voting system has been tested by a federally accredited test laboratory and has successfully met the requirements of federal voting system standards and/or guidelines.

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Do all voting systems used in federal elections have to be tested and certified by EAC?

No. According to the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), participation by the states in EAC's certification program or adoption of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) is voluntary. However, states may formally adopt the VVSG, making these guidelines mandatory in their jurisdictions.

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Do states have to use voting systems that have been certified by EAC?

No. HAVA does not require states to use voting systems that have been certified by EAC. Although participation in the program is voluntary, adherence to the program’s procedural requirements is mandatory for participants. Many states chose to participate by using hardware and/or software components of an EAC certified voting system without using the fully certified voting system product suite.

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How long has the federal government tested and certified voting equipment?

The federal government’s first voting system certification program began operations in January, 2007.

For more information about EAC's Voting System Certification and Testing Program, visit the FAQ page.

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How do I use the map?

If you are familiar with Google Maps, you can use our voting systems map. Click and drag or use the directional circle in the top left corner of the map to move around. You can zoom in and out with 

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What do the pins mean?

The blue or yellow upside down teardrops on the map are called pins. The pins point to where an EAC Certified Voting System is in use. When you click on the pin, it gives you information about the exact location of the voting system, the voting system name, and a link to more information about the voting system, including test plans, test reports, and any system advisory alerts that may have been issued about the system. Blue pins represent jurisdictions using each and every component of an EAC certified voting system. Yellow pins represent jurisdictions using one or more components from an EAC certified voting system.

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What do the different state colors mean?

:  Explanation for the colors in the map can be found below the map in the key. Purple means that the state has no federal requirements for voting systems. Relevant state statutes and/or regulations make no mention of any federal agency, certification program, laboratory, or standard. Green means that the state requires that its voting systems be tested by a federally accredited laboratory. Relevant state statutes and/or regulations require testing by a federally or nationally accredited laboratory to federal standards. Orange means that the state requires testing its voting systems to federal standards. Relevant state statutes and/or rules require testing to federal voting system standards. (States reference standards drafted by the Federal Election Commission, National Institute of Standards and Technology, or the Election Assistance Commissioner). Blue means that the states require federal certification for its voting systems. Relevant state statutes and/or rules require that voting systems be certified by a federal agency.

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Why are there pins in Florida, yet they have no federal requirement regarding voting systems?

Florida doesn’t require the use of federally certified voting systems, but many of their counties use systems or system components that have been certified by EAC. Florida, as with some other states, doesn’t require the use of federally certified voting systems per state law. It is EAC’s practice to disclose information about EAC-certified systems in the field, regardless of whether the state participates in the federal program.

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Research

Election Administration and Voting Survey

What is the Election Administration and Voting Survey?

The Election Administration and Voting Survey provides information related to election administration, registration and voting.

The survey includes national, state, and county-level data on:

  • Voter Registration 
  • Uniformed and Overseas Voters 
  • Early, Absentee, and Provisional Voting 
  • Voting Equipment Usage 
  • Poll Workers, Polling Places, and Precincts

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Who responds to the Election Administration and Voting Survey?

The Election Administration and Voting Survey is sent to election officials in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four territories – Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Why does the EAC produce the Election Administration and Voting Survey?

The EAC released its first survey in 2004 under authority granted to the commission by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. Section 202 of HAVA requires the EAC to serve as a national clearinghouse and resource for the compilation of information and review of procedures with respect to the administration of Federal elections. Section 202(3) authorizes the EAC to conduct studies and carry out other duties and activities to promote the effective administration of Federal elections.

HAVA mandates that the Commission collect information related to the processes and procedures used to register voters and to serve uniformed and overseas citizens wishing to vote. The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 required the Federal Election Commission (and subsequently, the Election Assistance Commission) to report to Congress by June 30 of the year following a Federal election on the impact of the Act on the administration of elections and to include recommendations for improvements in procedures, forms, and other matters affected by the Act.

Section 703 of HAVA mandates that for each regularly scheduled general election for Federal office, the EAC shall collect comprehensive data from the states on all of the ballots sent to military and overseas voters and received back by election administrators. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) of 1986 protects the voting rights of members of the uniformed services and U.S. citizens residing outside of the country.

In addition, the EAC uses the Election Administration and Voting Survey to learn more about other timely and important election administration issues, for example, from the use of electronic poll books to the prevalence of voter registration processes being conducted via the Internet.

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How often does the EAC produce the Election Administration and Voting Survey?

The information collection associated with the Election Administration and Voting Survey is conducted every two years following a federal election.

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How are EAC’s Election Administration and Voting Survey data collected?

Every two years, the EAC administers the survey to 55 States and territories, requesting election administration-related data at the county-level or county-level equivalent. Most states rely at least to some degree on centralized voter registration databases and voter history databases, which allow state election officials to respond to the survey at the local level for each question. Other states rely on cooperation from county election offices to complete the survey.

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What information does the Election Administration and Voting Survey provide about voter participation?

The Election Administration and Voting Survey report provides the state-reported figures for U.S. voter participation and registration, as well as the estimated voting age population and estimated citizen voting age population as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

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How can I learn more about a specific state’s data?

EAC makes all of its data publicly available for interested parties to examine and analyze. The Election Administration and Voting Survey data can be found on the EAC website. For questions about a specific state’s data, please review the data and contact the state’s election office for more information.

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Questions about the survey?

Please refer to our EAVS Fact Sheet, or call the EAC at 1-866-747-1471/301-563-3919 or send an e-mail to clearinghouse@eac.gov.

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How can I find out what you have for registered voters in Emmet County, Estherville, Iowa?Do you also have a place to find total of Emmet County population that you are using for your totals.where can I find this information on your website.

One approach is to use our 2016 EAVS data which can be found here: https://www.eac.gov/research-and-data/datasets-codebooks-and-surveys/. Specifically registration data is in Section A, and registered voter numbers for the 2016 election cycle can be found in question A1. However the Iowa Secretary of State updates registration totals monthly. They just released their most recent registration report, dated Oct. 2, 2017: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/VRStatsArchive/2017/CoOct17.pdf. Emmet's County information is listed there. 
 
We don't have total population in our dataset. The report also does not have county-level data of voting age citizens. That data can be found at the US Census website. This is the most recent data from the Census for county-level estimates and should be noted doesn't match the time frame of our registration data. Our registration data is numbers reported from the states from after the 2014 election up to the November 2016 election. The Census data is estimates taken from a 5-year survey average from 2011 - 2015. 

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HAVA Section 251, 101, 102 Funds

Completing Federal Financial Report

Where do we record interest earned on State matching funds?

Interest earned on State matching funds should be included in Line 10i of the Recipient Share of expenditures. Line i will include the initial required 5 percent, additional interest earned on recipient share and any excess program income earned.

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Where do we report interest earned on the Federal Share?

Interest earned on the Federal share is reported in line L under Program Income. Since we must track interest generated on Federal funds separately, we have dedicated lines L-O exclusively to this purpose. Excess program in income will be tracked under Recipient Share using the additive method.

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How do we record the transfer of interest earned on 102 Funds to our 251 account? When can we make this Transfer?

On the Section 251 FFR you will record this transfer by adding the funds to Line L under Program Income. Use the comments box to record the amount and date of the transfer. On the Section 102 FFR, show the amount transferred on Line N, which will leave the Final FFR for Section 102 with a balance of zero on line O. Use the comments box to note the date and amount of the transfer. EAC has authorized some individual States to make this transfer, but we will also issue a general memorandum authorizing this transfer in the coming days.

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Do we report our EAC funds on one FFR form or on separate forms?

You should have one form for each type of funds being reported: 101; 102; and 251. If you have already submitted a final FFR for Section 102 funds, you do not need to submit additional 102 reports. 

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We were told early in 2008 that we would have to submit a separate report for 2008 Section 251 Funds, is this still required?

No, you do not need to track FY 2008 Section 251 funds on a separate FFR.

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Do you have a fillable version of the forms available?

Yes, we have added fillable versions of the form to our website.

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Where do we record interest earned on State matching funds?

Interest earned on State matching funds should be included in Line 10i of
the Recipient Share of expenditures. Line i will include the initial required
5 percent, additional interest earned on recipient share and any excess
program income earned.

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Where do we report interest earned on the Federal Share?

Interest earned on the Federal share is reported in line L under Program
Income. Since we must track interest generated on Federal funds
separately, we have dedicated lines L-O exclusively to this purpose.
Excess program income will be tracked under Recipient Share using the
additive method.

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How do we record the transfer of interest earned on 102 Funds to our 251 account? When can we make this Transfer?

On the Section 251 FFR you will record this transfer by adding the funds
to Line L under Program Income. Use the comments box to record the
amount and date of the transfer. On the Section 102 FFR, show the
amount transferred on Line N, which will leave the Final FFR for Section
102 with a balance of zero on line O. Use the comments box to note the
date and amount of the transfer. EAC has authorized some individual
States to make this transfer, but we will also issue a general memorandum
authorizing this transfer in the coming days.

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Do we report our EAC funds on one FFR form or on separate forms?

You should have one form for each type of funds being reported: 101;
102; and 251. If you have already submitted a final FFR for Section 102
funds, you do not need to submit additional 102 reports.

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We were told early in 2008 that we would have to submit a separate report for 2008 Section 251 Funds, is this still required?

No, you do not need to track FY 2008 Section 251 funds on a separate
FFR.

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Do you have a fillable version of the forms available?

Yes, we have added fillable versions of the form to our website.

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Completing the Federal Financial Report

What to do when there is a non-response to a FOIA?

Please send in a request to the FOIA officer for an update on the status.

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Can a foia get the mailing addresses of voters that voted for a proposal in a public election?

Please contact the voter registrar in your state and local jurisdiction to inquire about what information may be available regarding a voter's information. Each state has different laws regarding what voting information is available to the public.
 
Thank you for allowing the EAC to provide support to you.

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Voting Systems/Equipment Purchases

May a State use HAVA funds to purchase absentee voting equipment?

States and its counties may use funds distributed under Section 101 or Section 251 to purchase voting equipment used to conduct absentee voting as long as that equipment meets the requirements of Section 301(a) of HAVA. The definition of voting system in Section 301(b) of HAVA includes equipment used to administer absentee voting. As such, no pre-approval from the EAC is required prior to purchase. However, cost reasonableness must still be considered in selecting the equipment. The cost must be reasonably related to the value of the equipment purchased.

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May a State or local government use HAVA funds to purchase additional accessible voting equipment?

Yes. States and its counties may use funds distributed under Section 101 or Section 251 to purchase additional accessible voting equipment as long as that equipment meets the requirements of Section 301(a) of HAVA. 

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May HAVA funds be used to purchase voting systems with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) capabilities?

The answer depends on whether the purchase of VVPAT is part of the purchase of a compliant voting system (under Section 301(a)) or if it is purchased as a retrofit for a compliant voting system. If it is a component of a voting system that is being purchased, then Section 251 funds can be used to the same extent that they are available to meet the requirements of Title III. However, if the VVPAT is purchased as a retrofit, then 251 funds can be used ONLY to the extent that they can be used to improve the administration of Federal elections (see 251(b)(2)), as VVPAT is not a required component of voting systems under section 301(a) and would serve only to improve the administration of elections. Also, Section 101 funds can be used. Section 102 funds would not be appropriate for a retrofit VVPAT because VVPAT is not a requirement of Section 301.

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Capital Improvements

Can a locality use HAVA funds to make modifications to a storage space in order to provide appropriate storage for voting equipment?

Generally, making modifications to a warehouse to store voting equipment is an allowable cost. However, this expense is not directly related to meeting any of the Title III requirements. Only Section 101 funds or Section 251(b) funds may be used for this expense. However allocability and cost reasonableness must still be considered. For example, if the warehouse modification will not be used exclusively for the purpose of improving the administration of Federal elections, only that percentage of costs associated with the administration of Federal elections can be charged to the HAVA grant. Similarly, it may be more reasonable to select a different warehouse rather then retrofit the current structure. 

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May HAVA Section 101 or 251 funds be used to purchase a building to be used for warehouse voting system equipment?

Generally, purchasing a warehouse to store voting equipment is an allowable cost. This expense is not directly related to meeting any of the Title III requirements. Thus, only Section 101 or Section 251(b) funds may be used. Factors such as allocability and cost reasonableness must still be considered in determining the appropriateness of the expense. For example, if the warehouse will not be used exclusively for the purpose of improving the administration of Federal elections, only that percentage of costs associated with the administration of Federal elections can be charged to the HAVA grant. Similarly, it may be more reasonable to rent a warehouse rather then purchase one. 

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Can HAVA Section 102 funds be used to buy, rent or improve a warehouse to store voting systems?

No. Section 102 of HAVA grants payments to States for the purpose of replacing punch card and lever voting systems not for the storage or warehousing of such equipment. 

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May HAVA funds be used to rent space to store voting equipment purchased to meet HAVA requirements?

Generally, renting a warehouse to store voting equipment is considered to be an allowable cost. This expense is not directly related to meeting any of the Title III requirements. Thus, only Section 101 or Section 251(b) funds may be used. Factors such as allocability and cost reasonableness must still be considered in order to determine the appropriateness of this type of expense. If the warehouse will not be used exclusively for the purpose of improving the administration of Federal elections (e.g., rental space would be used to house equipment other than voting systems that would be used in Federal elections), only that percentage of costs associated with the administration of Federal elections can be charged to the HAVA grant. Rental costs of buildings and equipment are covered by OMB Circular A-87.

Rental costs under leases which are required to be treated as capital leases under Generally Accepted 13 Accounting Principles (GAAP) are allowable only up to the amount that would be allowed had the State or local government purchased the property on the date the lease agreement was executed. The provisions of Financial Accounting Standards Board Statement 13, Accounting for Leases, determine whether a lease is a capital lease. The determination is based on factors such as if the lease transfers ownership of the property to the lessee by the end of the lease term; contains a bargain purchase option; the lease term is equal to 75 percent or more of the estimated economic life of the leased property unless the lease term falls within the last 25 percent of the total estimated economic life of the leased property; or the present value at the beginning of the lease term of the minimum lease payments excluding executory costs such as insurance, maintenance, and taxes to be paid by the lessor, including any profit, equals or exceeds 90 percent of the excess of the fair value of the leased property to the lessor at the inception of the lease.

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General Purpose Equipment/Furniture

May HAVA funds be used to purchase cellular phones in administering elections and maintaining contact with polling places on Election Day?

Cellular phones would generally be considered an allowable cost. However, because this expense is not directly related to meeting any of the Title III requirements, the expense could be allocated only to improving the administration of federal elections under Section 101 funds or Section 251 funds pursuant to Section 251(b).

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May HAVA funds be used to purchase storage cabinets, security cages and shelving for storage of ballots to secure and store ballots as required by State and Federal law?

Storage cabinets and shelving are allowable costs as long as they are not covered by the required maintenance of effort. See Section 254(a)(7). Because this expense would not be directly related to meeting any of the Title III requirements, it could be allocated only to funding programs under Sections 101 and 251(b). Cost principles such as allocability and cost reasonableness must still be considered. For example, if the security cages and shelving will not be used exclusively for the purpose of improving the administration of federal elections, only that percentage of costs associated with the administration of federal elections can be charged to the HAVA grant. 

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May HAVA funds be used to purchase high speed letter openers to process absentee ballots?

High speed letter openers are an allowable cost for this stated purpose. As this expense is not directly related to meeting any of the Title III requirements, the cost can be allocated only to the Section 101 funding program or to Section 251 funds pursuant to Section 251(b). Allocability and cost reasonableness must be considered in assessing the propriety of this type of expense. If the letter opener will not be used exclusively for the purpose of opening absentee ballots and other mail unrelated to improving the administration of Federal elections, only that percentage of costs associated with the administration of Federal elections can be charged to the HAVA grant. Similarly, depending on the volume of mail it may be more reasonable to manually open the letters. 

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May HAVA funds be used for a mail processing system that will assemble, sort, label and affix proper postage amounts for all outgoing mail, including absentee ballots from the Elections Office?

This type of mail processing system is an allowable cost for the stated purpose. Because this expense is not directly related to meeting any of the Title III requirements, it may be allocated only to the funding programs established in Section 101 or Section 251 funds pursuant to Section 251(b). However, allocability and cost reasonableness must be considered to fully assess the appropriateness of such an expense. For example, if the mail processing system will not be used exclusively for the purpose of processing mail related to improving the administration of Federal elections, only that percentage of costs associated with the administration of Federal elections can be charged to the HAVA grant. Similarly, depending on the volume of mail it may be more reasonable to manually process the mail. 

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Vehicle Purchases

May a State use HAVA funds to purchase motorized vehicles for use in voter outreach efforts?

While motorized vehicles are an allowable cost when they are used for voter education pursuant to Section 101(b)(1)(C) of HAVA, there are significant issues related to allocability and cost reasonableness that must still be considered in assessing the appropriateness of such an expense. For example, if the vehicle will not be used exclusively for the purpose of voter outreach or other activities associated with improving the administration of Federal elections and are used for purposes unrelated to improving the administration of Federal elections, only that percentage of costs associated with the administration of Federal elections can be charged to the HAVA grant. Even in this instance, the appropriate percentage of cost could only be allocated to the funding programs under Section 101 or Section 251(b). As for the reasonableness analysis, it may be more reasonable to rent a vehicle rather than to purchase, insure and maintain vehicles that will only be used infrequently or periodically. 

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May a State use HAVA funds to purchase forklifts used to move and store voting equipment within a warehouse?

Yes. Section 101 funds may be used to train election officials, poll workers, and election volunteers. Section 251 can only be used for the educational costs that benefit Federal elections, as those funds are restricted to improving the administration of Federal elections funds subject to the requirements of Section 251(b). The State should carefully consider the prudence of funding an ongoing expense such as printing and distribution charges with a one-time funding source like these HAVA funds. These costs will inevitably be assumed by the State or local government upon the exhaustion of Federal funds.

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Voting Systems (Special Purpose Equipment)

May HAVA funds be used to purchase office furniture (tables, cabinets and desks) for the new voting systems equipment and statewide voter registration database equipment?

Office furniture would generally be considered an allowable cost as long as such cost is not covered by the maintenance of effort requirements imposed by Section 254(a)(7). The purchase of office furniture is only allowable if it can be demonstrated that the furniture would improve the administration of Federal elections. As such, those costs could only be allocated to the funding programs under Sections 101 and 251(b). Factors such as allocability and cost reasonableness must still be considered. For example if the office furniture will not be used exclusively for the purpose of improving the administration of Federal elections, only that percentage of costs associated with the administration of Federal elections can be charged to the HAVA grant. Furthermore, the cost for the furniture must be reasonable as compared to what the election jurisdiction is getting.

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Does HAVA Section 301(a)(3)(C) mean that if HAVA funds are used after January 1, 2007 to purchase a voting system (or any additional voting units), the funds can only be used to purchase voting units that meet the accessibility requirements of Section 301(a)(3)?

The January 1, 2007 date referenced in Section 301(a)(3)(C) applies to when the funds are provided, not when the equipment is purchased. If a jurisdiction already meets the accessibility requirements under Section 301(a)(3) and they wish to purchase additional voting systems, the State would not be required to procure additional voting equipment that is accessible to persons with disabilities. Nevertheless, the equipment procured with those funds must meet all other HAVA Section 301 requirements. If States receive additional HAVA funding from the EAC after January 1, 2007 and wish to use that funding to purchase new voting systems, then all equipment purchased with the new funding must meet the requirements of Section 301(a)(3). If mixed funding sources are used in future voting system procurements, States will have to separately account for restricted and unrestricted money separately if the State wishes to purchase non-accessible equipment.

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Can a State or local government use HAVA funds to upgrade wiring so that the election office can connect its locality LAN to access the Internet?

Generally, upgrading wiring is an allowable cost for this purpose. Upgrading wiring is justified if it improves the administration of Federal elections. It can be paid for using Section 101 funds or Section 251 funds up to the minimum payment identified in Section 252. However allocability and cost reasonableness must still be considered. For example, if the internet wiring will not be used exclusively for the purpose of improving the administration of Federal elections, only that percentage of costs associated with the administration of Federal elections can be charged to the HAVA grant. 

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May HAVA funds be used to pay to maintain and support a HAVA compliant statewide voter registration system?

Yes. Maintenance of a statewide voter registration system can be paid for from Section 251 funds or Section 101 funds. However, cost reasonableness must still be considered. The State should carefully consider the prudence of funding an ongoing expense such as printing and distribution charges with a one-time funding source like these HAVA funds. These costs will inevitably be assumed by the State or local government upon the exhaustion of Federal funds. 

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May HAVA Section 251 funds be used to reimburse a State for statewide voter registration database costs incurred prior to award of the funds?

The EAC has concluded that (for the purposes of requirements payments) any pre-award cost “incurred pursuant to negotiation and in anticipation of grant award”, as required by 17 OMB Circular A-87, Pre Award Costs, is reimbursable if the cost was included in a (later) approved HAVA State plan and it was incurred after Congress appropriated HAVA requirements payment funding on February 20, 2003. In order to be properly attributed as a pre-award grant cost, a cost must have been necessary to incur in order to meet the scheduled requirements of the grant. HAVA Title III requirements include a mandate for the creation of a Statewide Voter Registration Database (42 U.S.C. §15483(a)) on or before January 1, 2004 (42 U.S.C. §15483(d)) or apply for a waiver (for good cause shown) to extend the deadline to January 1, 2006. The EAC has concluded that it is reasonable for a State to conclude that pre-award expenditures on Statewide Voter Registration Databases were necessary in order to meet HAVA timelines. Pre-award costs expended to procure a voter registration database that will meet HAVA requirements fits the use limitation. The cost must not have been allocated to meet the States maintenance of effort requirement or 5 percent matching fund requirement. In order to properly allocate a pre-award cost to a grant, the recipient must get written approval from the awarding agency, the EAC. 

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What voting machine purchases made prior to the passage of HAVA are reimbursable under HAVA?

Voting machine purchases made prior to the passage of HAVA and after January 1, 2001 are reimbursable under Sections 102 and 251. In addition, Section 251(c)(1) of HAVA permits reimbursement of voting machine purchases made after the Federal general election in November 2000. If Section 102 funds are used to reimburse expenses incurred to purchase voting systems those purchases (1) must have been made after January 1, 2001; (2) must have been made to replace punch card or lever voting systems used on or before the deadline for submitting certifications established in Section 102; and (3) must have been used to purchase voting systems that comply with Section 301(a) of HAVA. In addition, the amount of reimbursement per precinct cannot exceed the pro rata amount distributed by GSA. If Section 251 funds are used as reimbursement for HAVA compliant voting machine purchases made on a multi-year contract, then pursuant to Section 253(a)(5) the amount of the State’s matching funds must be increased in an amount equal to the amount of the reimbursement. If Section 251 funds are used as reimbursement for voting machine purchases made on other than a multi-year contract, the provision requiring an increased matching funds does not apply. 

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May States use Section 251 funds to reimburse a county or local government for its purchase of voting equipment?

Yes. The funds can only be used to reimburse the purchase of voting systems that meet the requirements of Section 301(a) of HAVA; purchase must have occurred after the November 2000 election; and if the money is used to reimburse a purchase of voting equipment on a multi-year contract, then the State must increase its maintenance of effort expenditure by the amount of the payment and additional matching funds are required under Section 253(b)(5).

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May a State reimburse a county that has fully satisfied the payment obligation to the voting system vendor for the purchase of voting equipment made prior to the State receiving HAVA funds?

Section 251(c) of HAVA contemplates using Title II funds for the purpose of reimbursing States for expenses associated with voting equipment that meets the requirements of HAVA purchased prior to the availability of funds under HAVA. This concept of reimbursement applies to the county or other local government unit that purchases voting equipment in lieu of such purchases on a State level. HAVA funds may reimburse and replace county funds that were obligated after October 29, 2002, (or obligated prior to January 1, 2001 under a multi-year contract) in advance of the receipt of Federal funds. Thus, if the county has already earned those reimbursement payments, it can reappropriate the funds to uses it deems proper, subject to any conditions established by the State in granting funds to counties.

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May HAVA funds be used to reimburse counties for vendor voting system maintenance fees?

Either Section 101 or Section 251(b) funds can be used for expenses related to maintenance of voting systems. Under Section 251(b), a State is limited to the amount that it would have been entitled to as a minimum payment until the State meets the requirements of Title III.

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May a State or county rent or lease out its voting systems?

Generally, a State or county can rent or lease out its voting systems. Common Rule, 41 C.F.R. § 105-71.32 Equipment, prohibits a grantee from using a piece of equipment purchased using grant funds to compete unfairly with the private sector. If a State rents or leases its voting machines out it must do so in a way that does not thwart competition with the private sector. The price paid by the lessee must be a competitive price. Equipment is defined by the common rule as "tangible, non-expendable, personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit. A grantee may use its own definition of equipment provided that such definition would at least include all equipment defined above.” If the voting systems meet the definition of “equipment” either under the Common Rule or State laws, rules or regulations, the restriction must apply. Income from leasing voting equipment to other jurisdictions would be considered program income, see OMB Circular A-102, Common Rule, 41 C.F.R. § 105-71.125 Program Income. The only appropriate treatment of income classified as program income during the grant period is for the county to dedicate the income to uses permitted under HAVA Section 251. Section 251 allows the use of HAVA funds to implement the requirements of Title III; once those requirements are met, to improve the administration of elections for Federal office. After the expiration of the grant period, the income generated by the lease of voting systems may be used by the county as it chooses. 

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Does a State law that permits some small towns to use paper ballots for non-federal elections instead of HAVA compliant voting equipment violate the ‘private and independent’ requirement of HAVA?

No. The voting equipment provisions of HAVA apply only to elections for Federal office. However, there may be State laws, rules or regulations that require the use of accessible voting systems in State and/or local elections.

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Conference Attendance

May HAVA funds be used to send elections office employees to an election industry association conference to see available voting equipment?

Generally, HAVA funds may be used to attend an election industry association conference to see available voting equipment if such funds were not a part of the State’s maintenance of effort requirement. HAVA funds may not be used to pay dues to the association. Because this expense is not directly related to meeting any of the Title III requirements, only Section 101 or Section 251(b) funds may be used.

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Voter Education & Voting Officials Training

May HAVA Section 101 funds be used to buy children’s coloring books (educational)?

No. Pursuant to the language of HAVA, the funds must be expended to educate “voters” or groups of people who meet State voting requirements. As coloring books are traditionally geared towards the young (who are not eligible to vote), this use of Section 101 funds appears not to meet the fund’s educational use requirements

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May HAVA funds be used to create video training aids or instruction lead training, or employ a full time training manager for Officers of Election on new voting equipment, provisional ballots and/or ID requirements for first time mail registrants?

May HAVA funds be used to create video training aids or instruction lead training, or employ a full time training manager for Officers of Election on new voting equipment, provisional ballots and/or ID requirements for first time mail registrants?

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May HAVA Section 101 funds be used to buy “voting is cool” bracelets?

No. In order to fit within the allowable expense of voter education, the item procured must provide information on voting procedures, rights or technology. Items intended to “get out the vote” or merely encourage voting do not meet this requirement. Items that are not fundamentally educational may be considered advertising or public relations costs prohibited by OMB Circular A-87 Advertising and public relations costs. 

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Food Purchases

May HAVA funds be used to provide food during a training of election officers (poll workers) on new voting equipment before the initial use?

Generally, HAVA funds may be used to purchase food consumed during training. The provision of food is covered by OMB Circular A-87 Meetings and conferences. Meals associated with meetings and conferences are allowable. However, meals that are used for entertainment purposes and alcohol are not allowable. 

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May HAVA section 101 funds be used to buy “Top Ramen” as a humorous means to attract the attention of college students to the importance of voting?

No. In order to fit within the allowable expense of voter education, the item procured must provide information on voting procedures, rights or technology. Items intended to “get out the vote” or merely encourage voting do not meet this requirement. Items that are not fundamentally educational may be considered advertising or public relations costs prohibited by OMB Circular A-87, Advertising and public relations costs. 

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Accessibility/ADA Compliance

May HAVA funds be used to make polling places used in Federal elections accessible to people with disabilities if those polling places will be used in future elections?

Generally, making polling places accessible is an allowable cost. However, this expense is not directly related to meeting any of the Title III requirements. As such, this cost can be allocated only to funding programs under Section 101 or Section 251(b).

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Can a locality be reimbursed with HAVA funds for ADA modifications to polling places made before HAVA became law on October 29, 2002?

No. HAVA provides only for reimbursement of expenses related to voting system purchases. There is no provision for the reimbursement of expenses incurred to improve access to polling places.

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Affirmative Action Compliance

Does Executive Order 11246, dealing with affirmative action plan requirements, apply to a State because it received more than $65 million from the Federal government under HAVA?

No. The provisions of Executive Order 11246 apply to contractors and subcontractors with the Federal government. The funds provided by EAC under HAVA do not meet the definition of a contract as stated in the Federal Acquisition Regulations, Part 2.101, and as defined by the Government Accountability Office in Principles of Federal Appropriations Law.

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Accounting (Recordkeeping & Reporting)

What is the proper year to account for retroactive reimbursement payments made under HAVA for the Single Audit Act?

The funds should be included in the audit of the fiscal year in which the funds were expended, which is the fiscal year in which the funds were received from the Federal government and then appropriated to use by the State or county. So, if the funds were received in FY05 (October 1, 2004 – September 30, 2005) and appropriated in FY05 by the 19 State or county as reimbursement for expenses made in a previous fiscal year by the State or county, then the funds should be covered by the FY05 audit.

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What is the grant period for HAVA funds?

EAC has established the grant period for HAVA Title II funds as the period beginning on the date of disbursement of funds to the State and ending when the State and/or a political subdivision of the State expends all of the funds distributed by EAC to the State, all matching funds, and all interest earned on either the Federal funds or State matching funds.

Each grant or 251 requirements payment appropriated by the US Congress and distributed by EAC to a state (whether whole or in increments) begins a grant period when distributed (awarded) to the state.  Any incremental distribution of a 251 appropriated requirements payment will be considered part of the related whole 251 requirements grant.  Each grant or 251 requirements payment grant ends when all the funds distributed to the state for that payment have been expended and such final expenses reported within the annual Federal Financial Report (SF 425 - formerly the Financial Status Report SF 269).

 

 

 

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When do the grant period end and the record keeping requirement start for HAVA funds?

The record keeping requirement begins with expenditures under each grant or each appropriated 251 requirements payment. The grant record retention period for each grant or 251 requirements payment starts on the day the grantee submits its FFR expenditure report as defined in FAQ 39 above which includes the final expenditures under that grant or 251 requirements payment.

The length of the retention period:

(1) Except as otherwise provided, records must be retained for three years from the record retention starting date specified in the paragraph above.

(2) If any litigation, claim, negotiation, audit or other action involving the records has been started before the expiration of the 3-year period, the records must be retained until completion of the action and resolution of all issues which arise from it, or until the end of the regular 3-year period, whichever is later.

 

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What CFDA number do I use when reporting my expenditure of HAVA funds?

The following CFDA numbers have already been assigned to HAVA funding programs: (The Secretary of State's office should be able to tell you which HAVA funds were provided to a county.)

  • 39.011 - Title I, Sections 101 and 102 - "early money" election reform payments made to States (distributed by the General Services Administration in 2003);
  • 93.617 - Title II, section 261 - grants to States for voting access for individuals with disabilities (aka EAID, distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2003, 2004, and 2005);
  • 93.618 - Title II, section 291 - grants to State protection and advocacy systems to promote voting access for individuals with disabilities (distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2003, 2004, and 2005);
  • 90.400 - Help America Vote College Program - grants to promote the participation of college students as nonpartisan poll workers (distributed by EAC before 9/30/04); and
  • 90.401 – Sections 251- 258 - Requirements Payments to States – (distributed by the EAC in 2004 and 2005)

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Does the State need to notify the EAC of the States compliance and intent to use 251 funds for "other election improvements"?

Yes. Consistent with Section 251(b) in order to use remaining Title II funds for the improvement of the administration of elections for Federal office, the State must submit a verification that all of the Title III requirements have been met (not just the voting system requirements) or certify prior to the time that all Title III requirements are met that the State will not use more than the minimum payment amount. This does not alleviate the responsibility that the State has to assure that its spending is in keeping with its State plan. Thus, if the proposed spending on improving election administration is not reflected in the State plan and represents a material change, the State plan must be changed prior to the change in spending.

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Enforcement

If a sub-grantee (State grant of HAVA funds to a county or local government) misspends HAVA funds will the EAC recover the funds directly from the sub-grantee?

No. The EAC will not be engaged in recouping funds from a local government that were misspent by a local government or which were overpaid to a local government under a sub-grant, the obligation is on the State. The EAC will recoup any funds misspent by a local government from the State government.

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What types of penalties might be imposed against a State if a county’s voting system is found non-compliant with HAVA?

The Department of Justice is given enforcement authority over Title III of HAVA. Any claim, law suit, or request for remedies including penalties would be sought against the State for its failure or one of its county’s failure to comply with HAVA, would be brought by the Department of Justice. 

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How will the EAC treat noncompliant precincts after the deadline for replacement of punch card and lever voting systems under Section 102 of HAVA?

The EAC expects the State to repay a pro rata portion of the funds received by the State in compliance with the requirement of Section 102(d). That pro rata portion would be determined by multiplying the percentage of noncompliant precincts with the amount of funding originally received under Section 102.

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Matching Funds

How do I calculate the amount needed for our state’s 5 percent match?

According to HAVA Section 253(b)(5), the State match is 5 percent of the total amount to be spent (taking into account the Federal amount the State amount). The formula for determining the amount of State matching funds based on the Federal funds requested is:

(Federal Dollars/.95) = State Match

Deriving from that formula an equation that would allow us to figure the Federal dollars from the available State match:

Federal Dollars = 19 x State Match

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Can a State use its State matching funds to satisfy the maintenance of effort requirement?

No, a State may not use State matching funds to satisfy the requirement that it maintain its effort. Both maintenance of effort and matching funds requirements are considered cost sharing methods, ways by which Congress and thereby the Federal Government get States to share in the expense of funding a particular endeavor. Maintenance of effort requirements are considered different from matching fund requirements in that the intent, generally, is to assure that the Federal funding actually increases the amount of funding to a particular program or task.

While there is no legislative history on this particular issue, a plain reading of HAVA must result in an understanding that Congress included two separate and distinct cost sharing requirements, matching funds and maintenance of effort. Congress did not intend for one of these cost sharing methods to cancel the other. Rather, it is apparent that Congress intended that the state both contribute to the improvement of election systems through the 5 percent match requirement as well as the fact that the Federal and State funding would increase the funding to election administration efforts.

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Miscellaneous

Must a county, the sub-grantee of HAVA funds, enter into an agreement with each municipality for the use of Federal Funds or is the agreement between the State and county sufficient?

The State must follow its own laws and procedures regarding the distribution of grant funds when issuing a sub-grant, but must also assure that the sub-grantee is aware of the limitations imposed by the Federal grant. A State must follow its own law as to whether a cost sharing agreement is required or some other form of grant agreement is needed. EAC suggests that there be some documentation that supports the transfer of these funds to the local governments, whether it be a certification by the governments that they will comply with the limitations or that the governments receive funds on a cost reimbursement basis after providing a request for the funds and proof that they were spent in accordance with the State and Federal restrictions. OMB Circular A-102, Common Rule, 41 C.F.R. § 105-71.137, Sub-grants, covers the requirements for States that issue sub-grants of Federal funds. 

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Does the HAVA, specifically Section 301, definition of "election for Federal office", include a presidential primary which is an election of delegates to a national political convention?

Federal campaign finance laws and regulations define these types of elections as Federal elections (see 11 C.F.R. § 100.2) and case law interpreting 42 U.S.C. Section 1973i relating to prohibited election offenses consider a presidential preference primary to be an election for federal office. While HAVA does not define an election for federal office, the statements of law regarding other election processes are instructive as to the meaning of the term for purposes of HAVA. State law may interplay. Some States have a definition of Federal election that excludes a presidential preference primary. While these statutes may be enacted for reasons related to the cost of an election, etc., they must be considered. 

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What is a Federal election?

The Voting Section, U.S. Department of Justice (charged with enforcing the requirements of HAVA Title III), addressed this issue: HAVA does not contain a definition of the term "election for federal office." However, Section 3 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. 1973gg-1(1)&(2), defines "election" and "federal office" as those terms appear in the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 431(1) & (3)). It is the Department's view that the requirements of Title III of HAVA were intended to apply in any general, special, primary, or runoff election for the office of President or Vice President, including presidential preference primaries, and any general, special, primary, or runoff election for the office of Senator or Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to the Congress from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the four territories. The EAC has taken the same approach with regard to the Federal funding programs that the agency oversees (HAVA Title I "early money" and Title II requirements payments). 

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Will restrictions of Section 251 be lifted on a by-county basis when a county meets the requirements of Title III of HAVA?

No. The plain language of Section 251(b)(2) of HAVA requires that the State have implemented the requirements of Title III prior to using more than what the State could have obtained as a minimum payment for activities to improve the administration of elections for Federal office. Thus, the Section 251 restrictions will not be lifted on a county-by-county basis.

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Can a State request an extension for complying with the voting system standard requirements in Section 301?

No. Section 301(d) of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires all States to comply on and after January 1, 2006 with the requirement that each voting system used in elections for Federal office must meet the HAVA Title III, Section 301, voting system standards. The EAC has no authority to extend or waive this statutory deadline. The U.S. Department of Justice, the agency authorized by HAVA to enforce Title III provisions, has made it clear that the agency plans to enforce this deadline. Only the enactment of Federal legislation providing for the extension or waiver of this deadline can change this requirement.

HAVA Section 102(a)(3)(B) permitted States, which had received Title I, Section 102 funds to replace punch card and lever machine voting systems, to file for a waiver of the original November 2, 2004 replacement deadline. Twenty-three of the thirty States that received such funds requested the waiver. The waiver gives these States until the first election for 24 Federal office held on or after January 1, 2006 to replace such systems without risk of losing these Federal funds. The first Federal election would normally be the 2006 primary election for Federal office, unless the State holds an earlier special election for Federal office to fill a vacancy. 

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Legal Advice

May HAVA funds be used to employ legal counsel to advise and or represent the Secretary of State and/or State Election Commissioners in litigation pertaining to the implementation of the State HAVA plan?

According to the plain language of HAVA in Sections 101(b)(2) and 251(f), funds distributed under Sections 101 and 251 cannot be used to pay for costs associated with litigation unless the exceptions in Sections 101(b)(2)(A) and 251(f)(1) apply, which permit legal expenses covering the implementation of HAVA (not a State provision that is more strict than the provisions of HAVA).

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May HAVA funds (101 and 251) be spent to determine whether the proposed uses of HAVA funds for litigation are allowable, allocable, and reasonable?

Yes. However, grantees generally seek advice from the agency that administers the grant on what constitutes an allowable cost. A State may be able to obtain the information that it needs without the necessity of a legal opinion by consulting with other State departments that are administering Federal grant programs at the State level. Grantees are encouraged to request the assistance of the EAC in determining the permissibility of certain costs rather than expending HAVA funds to make this determination. OMB Circular A-87, Defense and prosecution of criminal and civil proceedings, and claims, allows for legal expenses required in the administration of a Federal program. 

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Equipment

May a State lease equipment?

Leasing equipment is considered an allowable expense under OMB Circular A-87, according to the limitations and conditions of Attachment B, Section 37,

Rental Costs of Buildings and Materials. The limitations include that “sale and lease back” arrangements cannot cost the state or local government more than when it owned the property. The costs include expenses such as depreciation or use allowance, maintenance, taxes, and insurance. A “less-than-arms-length” agreement (i.e., a state government established a corporation to own the property then leases it back to the state) cannot cost the state or local government more than if title had vested in the state or local government. Rental costs under leases which are required to be treated as capital leases under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) are allowable only up to the amount that would be allowed had the state or local government purchased the property on the date the lease agreement was executed. The provisions of Financial Accounting Standards Board Statement 13, Accounting for Leases, determine whether a lease is a capital lease. The determination is based on factors such as if the lease transfers ownership of the property to the lessee by the end of the lease term; contains a bargain purchase option; the lease term is equal to 75 percent or more of the estimated economic life of the leased property unless the lease term falls within the last 25 percent of the total estimated economic life of the leased property; or the present value at the beginning of the lease term of the minimum lease payments excluding executory costs such as insurance, maintenance, and taxes to be paid by the lessor, including any profit, equals or exceeds 90 percent of the excess of the fair value of the leased property to the lessor at the inception of the lease.

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May HAVA funds be used to support de minimis uses of equipment by the State for non-HAVA related purposes?

Yes. Consistent with standard Federal guidelines, the State may authorize use in the office or official duty station on an occasional basis, provided that the use involves minimal or negligible additional expense and does not interfere with official business. Employees are expected to exercise common sense and good judgment in the personal use of equipment. The conduct of official business always takes precedence over any limited personal use. Such personal use would be so small that accounting for it would be unreasonable or impractical.

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Accessibility

2010 Accessible Voting Technology Initiative

Can state or local governments apply as an intermediary (primary recipient) on this project?

The Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) does not preclude any particular type of organization from applying as an intermediary. However, the organization should meet the requirements listed in Section III. A. Eligible Applicants of the funding announcement. 

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If an organization has only previously received federal funds as a sub-recipient, is it eligible to apply as an intermediary?

Yes. However, organizations applying as the intermediary should demonstrate a track record of successfully managing federal funds on projects of this scope and size. Organizations with specific expertise and research experience may be better suited as sub-recipients on the project. 

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Can I submit an application with pre-selected sub-recipients?

Yes. Submitting an application with pre-selected sub-recipients is encouraged. Priority consideration is given to proposals that can allocate 40% of the designated funds to the sub-recipients within the first six months of the grant. 

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Do sub-recipients have to go through a competitive process?

EAC is interested in a fair, open and transparent sub-awarding process. We encourage a process that values and documents appropriately the competitive 2 strengths of potential sub-recipients. We also appreciate the specialized expertise that particular organizations can provide. When submitting your application, please briefly describe the method and rationale (if applicable) for selecting the sub-recipients. 

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Is there a way for organizations that are interested in being either a sub-recipient or an intermediary to find each other?

EAC is maintaining a set of “Bidders Lists” for the benefit of prospective applicants. If your organization is interested in being either a sub-recipient or an intermediary, please send an email to Jess Myers at jmyers@eac.gov with the name of your organization, contact, and any other relevant information. These lists will be posted on the EAC website. Please note that EAC does not endorse any of the organizations on the lists and that participation on the lists does not affect the grant review or selection process. 

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What is expected in the coordination of this project with the Military Heroes Initiative?

The Accessible Voting Technology and the Military Heroes Initiatives are both funded from the $8 million congressional appropriation to develop an accessible voting research technology program. Since the two initiatives share similar goals, EAC would expect the recipients to collaborate in meeting their respective research objectives. EAC would expect the recipients 1) to coordinate project plans to resolve any potential overlaps, 2) to leverage each other’s backgrounds, skills and resources so that the projects can progress efficiently and to the maximum fiscal benefit to the federal government, and 3) to communicate any findings that may be relevant to the other party. 

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What are the intellectual property rights of the grantee under this grant?

The NOFA Section VI. B. 3. provides the EAC with a royalty-free, nonexclusive, and irrevocable right to use publications and materials, including data, produced under this agreement. The grantee must also make these publications and materials available to the public upon request. Other grantee intellectual property rights are covered by 35 U.S.C. Sec. 200 et seq. These provisions and implementing regulations allow grantees to retain title over and profit from any intellectual property developed under this grant. In order to retain title the grantee must meet certain reporting and other requirements within specific time periods. Generally, Federal agencies are granted a non-exclusive, nontransferable, irrevocable, paid-up license to utilize on behalf of the United States, the intellectual property developed under the grant throughout the world. 

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FOIA

FOIA

How do I obtain information routinely available to the public

A great deal of information is available to the public without filing a FOIA request. Examples are EAC policies, procedures, and advisory opinions as well as reports issued by the EAC and the Office of Inspector General.  Many items are available electronically on the EAC’s web site.  If you are not sure where to begin your search, contact the EAC’s FOIA liaison:

EAC Chief FOIA Officer, 1335 East West Highway, Suite 4300 Silver Spring MD 20910, 202-566-3100

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Will the EAC accept written requests, including fax or e-mail, for routinely available information?

Yes. Although a request for this type of information is not a FOIA request, the EAC will send you the requested information and charge you for the copies, according to the fee schedule in 11 CFR 9405.9 – 9405.12.

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Can I request records under the FOIA over the telephone?

No.  A request for documents under the FOIA must be in writing.  You may submit a request through the postal mail, by email, by fax or via electronic mail.  Additionally, if you modify your request, you must verify the change in writing to the appropriate FOIA office processing the request.  Otherwise, processing will not begin.

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What do I need to know about the records I am requesting in my FOIA request?

In order for a record to be considered subject to your FOIA request, it must be in the EAC’s possession and control at the time the EAC begins its search for responsive records. There is no obligation for the EAC to create or compile a record to satisfy a FOIA request (for example, by combining or compiling selected items from manual files, preparing a new computer program, calculating proportions, percentages, frequency distributions, trends and comparisons, or creating maps)

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What information do I need to include in my FOIA request?

  1. A description of the records

  2. Where you believe the records are located (if possible)

  3. A statement of your willingness to pay fees or a complete fee waiver justification

  4. Your fee category, i.e., commercial use; scientific/educational; news media or other

  5. Your postal address (this IS REQUIRED in order to mail documents to you)

If you are filing a Privacy Act request, include a written authorization signed by: 

  1. You (if this is a first party request)

  2. The individual to whom the records are about (if you are requesting the records on behalf of someone)

  3. Legal representation of the individual to whom the records are about

You should also provide any additional information required in the Privacy Act System of Records Notice.

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In what form or format will the records be sent to me?

Generally, you may choose the form or format of disclosure for records.  The EAC must provide the record(s) in the requested form/format if the office responding to the request can readily reproduce the record in that form/format with reasonable efforts. Applicable FOIA fees will apply regardless of the format.

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Where do I send my request?

Submit your request in writing through postal mail, email, or fax to:

Bryan Whitener
Director of Clearinghouse
1335 East West Highway, Suite 4300
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Phone: 202-566-3100
Fax: 301-734-3108

E-mail through the Contact Us form 

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How long will it take to receive a response to my request?

When your request is received by the appropriate office, it will be given a processing number.  At that time, the FOIA officer will determine whether your request is "perfected," meaning that the request addresses and complies with the EAC’s requirements under the FOIA. The EAC will send an acknowledgement providing you with the processing or reference number. 

Ordinarily, the EAC has 20 workdays from the date of receipt to respond to your request.  If you have not received a response within 20 workdays or 30 workdays if an extension has been taken (be sure to allow for mailing time), you may contact the EAC FOIA Office to ask about the delay.  You should contact the person listed in the acknowledgement letter as the point of contact for your request to check the status. 

Please note these time limits do not apply to requests for expedited processing. 

The 20 workday time limit begins to run when a request complying with the procedures in 11 CFR §§ 9405.7, is received by the FOIA contact at the office that has the records you are seeking and all issues regarding fees and the scope of your request are resolved.

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When will the office take a time extension to respond to my request?

The FOIA office may extend the 20-working day time limit for 10 more working days when it needs to:

  1. Search for and collect the requested records from multiple offices;

  2. Search for, collect, and examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records sought in a single request; or

  3. Consult with another agency that has a substantial interest in the determination of the request.

If the FOIA office intends to take an extension under this subsection, it will notify you in writing and provide the reason for the extension and the date it expects to make a determination on your request.

If an extension is necessary and the office is unable to respond to your request within 30 workdays, it will notify you in writing when you may expect a final response and advise you of your appeal rights. If an extension is taken and you have not received a response in 30 workdays, you may consider the request denied and file an appeal or a lawsuit.

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What are the criteria for receiving expedited processing?

  1. To receive expedited processing of your request, you must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the FOIA office that your request meets one of the following criteria:

    1. Circumstances in which the lack of expedited treatment could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual;
    2. An urgency to inform the public about an actual or alleged Federal Government activity if the request is made by a person primarily engaged in disseminating information.  In most situations, a person primarily engaged in disseminating information is a representative of the news media. The requested information must be the type of information which has particular value that will be lost if not disseminated quickly and ordinarily refers to a breaking news story of general public interest. However, neither information of historical interest only or sought for litigation or commercial activities nor a news media deadline unrelated to breaking news qualify for expedited processing; or
    3. The loss of substantial due process rights.
  2. A request for expedited processing should be submitted with your FOIA request. For a prompt determination, you must submit a request complying with the requirements of 11 CFR § 9405.7 to the Chief FOIA Officer.

  3. If you are seeking expedited processing, you must submit a statement explaining in detail the basis for your request. You must certify in your letter that your need for expedited processing is true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief.

  4. Within 10 calendar days of receipt of your request, the FOIA office will notify you whether it will grant expedited processing. If expedited processing is granted, the office will give priority to that FOIA request and process the request as soon as practicable. If expedited processing is denied, the FOIA office will notify you of your right to appeal the decision on expedited processing. Appeals of denials of requests for expedited processing will be processed ahead of other appeals (see 43 CFR Part 2, § 2.32(b)). If the FOIA office has not responded to your request for expedited processing within 10 calendar days, you have a right to file an appeal for non-response.

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What is the fee schedule for processing requests?

The FOIA office will charge fees consistent with the provisions in 11 CFR §§ 9405.9 – 9405.12.

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