Picture Perfect: A Critical Analysis of the Debate on the 2002 Help America Vote Act

By Ruda, Gabrielle B. | Fordham Urban Law Journal, November 2003 | Go to article overview

Picture Perfect: A Critical Analysis of the Debate on the 2002 Help America Vote Act


Ruda, Gabrielle B., Fordham Urban Law Journal


"And all the while, the rising power of my vote, helping build democracy" (1)

The notion that every citizen should have the unimpeded ability to cast a vote in the federal electoral process is an axiom embedded in America's collective subconscious. (2) The Presidential Election of 2000, however, provided a stark illustration of how easy it is to disprove the principle of Americans' inherent right to vote. Discrepancies and flaws in procedural policies for the administration of the election silenced thousands of voices in the State of Florida. (3) The wide-scale disenfranchisement of numerous citizens highlighted the need for federal intervention into this long-neglected area of election law. (4)

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (5) ("HAVA"), was designed to implement sweeping national election reform to remedy some of the ills that occurred in 2000. (6) One major cause of the breakdown of the electoral process in 2000 was the lack of uniform procedural guidelines for various aspects of the voting process. (7) Congress sought to provide such standards through the creation of HAVA, which was passed on October 16, 2002, by Congress and was signed into law by President Bush on October 29 of the same year. (8)

HAVA generally received a warm reception from the public because of the urgency of the need for legislative reform. (9) There are several provisions however, that have not received universal acceptance, including Section 303, (10) which deals with the identification requirements for voter registration, meant to reduce voter fraud. (11) Part of the Anti-Fraud provision requires that prospective voters provide valid photo identification, such as a driver's license, in order to register. (12) If potential voters do not possess a valid photo ID, they can use their Social Security number for identification instead. (13) If the registrant has neither a photo ID nor a Social Security number, the anti-fraud provision provides that she will be assigned a voter registration number based on a state-authored computerized voter list. (14) Further, first-time voters who register and cast a ballot by mail must submit with the ballot valid photo identification or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, of other government document that verifies the name and address of the voter. (15)

This Anti-Fraud provision is highly contentious and was hotly debated during the months of Congressional negotiations over HAVA. (16) The fallout of the debate took place on the floor of Congress along predominantly partisan lines. (17) The House and Senate Republicans argued that the Anti-Fraud provision was necessary, including Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO), who said it was needed to "combat problems of votes being cast on behalf of dead people and dogs." (18) Democrats vociferously opposed the provision because of the obstacles to voting that it creates for lower socioeconomic groups and racial/ethnic minorities. (19) Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) responded, "While its humorous to talk about dogs who voted, it's not funny to talk about people who showed up and didn't, and were denied to do so." (20) Despite the deep ideological divide that separates Democrats and Republicans on this issue, the bill passed overwhelmingly in both the House and the Senate, (21) illustrating the Congressional consensus on urgency of the need for immediate reform of the electoral process.

After passage of the bill, the torch of opposition to the Anti-Fraud provision was passed to Civil Rights and Civic Participation Organizations. These groups propose that the implementation of the provision holds the potential to paralyze the strides made in voting rights legislation throughout the twentieth century, such as the establishment of voter equality for gender and racial minorities, (22) and deprives racial and ethnic minority groups and lower socio-economic groups (two categories which often overlap) of having their voices heard in the political process because these groups are the most likely to be without the requisite forms of ID. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Picture Perfect: A Critical Analysis of the Debate on the 2002 Help America Vote Act
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.