Rokita Introduces Preliminary Election Reform Plan
Contact: Cam Savage
Secretary of State Seeks Comments and Ideas From all Hoosiers
Indianapolis, IN - Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita today released for public comment the fifty-one page Preliminary Indiana State Election Plan.
The Preliminary Indiana State Election Plan is the work product of the Vote Indiana Team, a diverse group of Hoosiers convened by Secretary Rokita in February. The Vote Indiana Team consists of members from across the state who represent three political parties, the state legislature, minority groups, military voters, people with disabilities, county election and voter registration officials, and the media.
"Not since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has such a groundbreaking election reform effort taken place in Indiana. The Preliminary Indiana State Election Plan will serve as the blueprint for future Indiana elections for years to come and I encourage all Hoosiers to study this preliminary plan and send me their comments, questions and ideas for improving our elections," Rokita said.
In Indiana, the release of the Plan is the next phase of an effort to reform election administration that began in 2000 with the work of the Bi-partisan Task Force on Election Reform. The work of the Task Force solidified Indiana's place as a leader in election reform, although many of the recommendations passed by the legislature were never implemented due to budget restraints.
Several of those reforms, including the phase out of lever machine and punch card voting systems, the creation of a statewide voter registration system, and the implementation of provisional balloting are included in the Preliminary Indiana State Election Plan. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, promises federal funding for states to implement these reforms.
Indiana has already received an initial payment of $5,000,000 from the federal government to improve election administration. Rokita estimates that Indiana could receive more than $55,000,000 in federal dollars over the next few years, if Congress fully funds its mandates.
"The Preliminary Indiana State Election Plan is the most detailed, thoughtful and well organized of any preliminary state plan I've read. I commend the work of the Vote Indiana Team and very much look forward to working with Hoosiers as they read and provide comments about this plan," Rokita said.
The Preliminary Indiana State Election Plan addresses each of the following reform issues.
- How Indiana will use federal funds to comply with HAVA's requirements concerning voting systems, the statewide voter registration system, and provisional voting.
- How Indiana will distribute (and monitor the distribution of) federal funds to local governments and other fund recipients, including the criteria to determine eligibility and to monitor performance.
- How Indiana will provide voter education and training programs for election officials and poll workers.
- How Indiana will adopt voting system standards consistent with HAVA.
- How Indiana will establish a fund for administering these federal payments and how the Indiana fund will be managed.
- Indiana's proposed budget to carry out the activities required to receive federal funds.
- How Indiana, in using these federal funds, will maintain a level of state expenditures at least equal to Indiana's expenditures for these activities during the July 1, 1999 - June 30, 2000 fiscal year.
- How Indiana will adopt performance measures to determine the success of state and local government in carrying out the Plan, including timetables, a description of the criteria to measure performance, and which official is responsible for meeting the requirements.
- A description of the required "uniform nondiscriminatory State grievance procedure" for HAVA-related complaints.
- If Indiana received additional federal money from another source, how this money will be used to carry out activities under the State Plan.
- How Indiana will conduct ongoing management of the HAVA State Plan.
- How the State Plan reflects changes from the State Plan for previous fiscal years.
- A description of the State Plan Committee and the procedures used by the Committee to develop the Plan.
The Plan is available for public comment from June 3, 2003 through July 3, 2003. After July 3, 2003, the Vote Indiana Team, using public comment as a guide, will make any necessary corrections or additions to the plan before submitting it to the federal government.
The Preliminary Indiana State Election Plan is available for review on Secretary Rokita's website at http://www.in.gov/sos/. Public comment may be submitted in writing to the following address: Todd Rokita, Indiana Secretary of State, 200 West Washington Street, Room 201, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204. Comments may also be emailed to VoteIndianaTeam@sos.state.in.us. In addition, public comment on the preliminary state plan may also be left at 317-234-VOTE or by contacting the Indiana Election Division toll free in Indiana at 800-622-4941 (TTD) or by fax at 317-233-3283.