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Can HAVA funds be used to build accessible bathrooms at polling locations?

Wednesday, March 06, 2024
Can HAVA funds be used to build accessible bathrooms at polling locations?

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Office of Grants Management (OGM) previously determined that improvements for the purpose of improving accessibility to buildings involved in the elections process are allowable under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Section 101(b)(1)(G) (52 U.S.C.§ 20901(b)(1)(G)). OGM applies a broad definition of accessibility in relation to polling locations, including the use of HAVA funds to build a new accessible bathroom and/or the renovation of an existing bathroom to be accessible. The scope of the project may qualify as a capital improvement, which would trigger the requirement for project pre-approval by the EAC (2 CFR 200.439(b)(3)) and reporting requirements over the useful life of the improvement (2 CFR 200.330). HAVA Section 101(b)(1)(G) further requires the allocation of a proposed cost based on its proportionate benefit to elections activities compared to non-election activities. Using the example of an accessible bathroom at a polling place, the cost of making those improvements would need to be allocated based on proportion of time the building is used for elections against the time the building is used for other, non-election purposes. Grantees should also determine whether the proposed project is reasonable by considering alternative solutions; an expense would likely not be considered reasonable if a less expensive but equally effective alternative is available. If your organization is considering using HAVA funds for a specific accessibility improvement that may require building modifications, please contact OGM at [email protected].