When Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 the intent was to enforce the promise of the 15th Amendment—that every citizen has the right to vote. In 2002 the Federal “Help America Vote Act” (HAVA) was designed to have a significant impact on the manner in which states conduct elections and administer the electoral process. Provisions of this Act include a statewide voter registration system, replacement of antiquated voting machines, improvement of voting system standards to assure accurate vote counts and new identification requirements for first time mail-in voter registrants.
HAVA also requires all voting systems in the United States to:
- Allow voters to review the accuracy of their selections before casting their ballot;
- Allow voters to correct any vote;
- Provide a permanent paper trail of the votes cast;
- Allow a means for voters with disabilities to be able to vote independently;
- Furnish multi-lingual ballots in required election districts;
- Produce an error rate that does not exceed the error rate standards established by the Federal Election Commission; and
- Establish uniform and non-discriminatory standards for what constitutes a vote.
Together these two acts should have a major impact on our fundamental right to vote.
This year our State has made great strides in implementing many of their provisions.
New legislation of special interest to the Montclair voter:
- Permits voting by absentee ballot for ANY reason (download Absentee Ballot Application).
- Requires posting of a “Voter’s Bill of Rights”
- Provides for a separate presidential primary on the last Tuesday in February (State to reimburse the municipality for costs of same).
- Permits voter registration up to 21 days before an election.
- Permits voter to declare party affiliation on voter registration form.
- Requires that voting machines produce a voter-verified paper record for each vote cast.
As New Jersey moves forward with enabling legislation the ultimate responsibility remains with our Montclair citizens to go to the polls and vote.
The cost of a Montclair municipal election: $44,176.84
The cost of new voting machines for Montclair’s 35 districts: $35,000
The right to vote: PRICELESS
Linda S. Wanat, Municipal Clerk