HAVA Complaint Procedure
The following contains information about the HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT (HAVA) and the process for filing a complaint alleging possible violations of HAVA Title III requirements
What is HAVA?
The HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT (HAVA) is a federal law passed in October 2002, which addresses improvements to voting systems and voter access and includes provisions on voter registration and voter education.
What are HAVA Title III requirements?
HAVA Title III includes voting system standards, accessibility of voting systems to persons with disabilities, instructions on correcting voting errors, identification requirements for voting in federal elections if registration is by mail, computerized voter registration, contents of registration forms and provisional voting. Click here for a summary of the Act's Title III Requirements or click here for a complete copy of the Act.
Who may file a HAVA Title III requirements complaint and how must it be filed?
State and county election officials strive to resolve HAVA concerns and complaints informally if possible. However, if the problem is not resolved informally and a person wishes, they may file a formal written complaint about HAVA Title III Requirements directly with the Oregon Secretary of State, Elections Division. The form SEL 820 must be used for such complaints. Any person may file HAVA Title III complaints, they must be filed in writing, and they must be signed under oath with the complainant's signature notarized. The complaint may be mailed or faxed. E-mailed or anonymous complaints will not be accepted.
What happens when a written HAVA Title III complaint is filed?
Upon receipt of a HAVA Title III complaint in the Secretary of State, Elections Division's office, the Division sends an acknowledgement letter to both the complainant and to the subject of the complaint, with a copy of the complaint provided to the subject of the complaint. Complaints alleging possible HAVA Title III violations are public record from the time of the initial filing. The Elections Division will review the complaint to determine the appropriate processing. If the complaint does not allege an actual violation of HAVA Title III, the Division will issue a letter explaining the reasons why the complaint may not be processed. If the complaint contains allegations of other election laws - for instance state election law as well as HAVA regulations, the complaint may be separated and handled accordingly based on the issues involved. There is a completely separate process for the filing and investigation of complaints alleging possible violations of state election law under ORS 260.345.
What is the process for investigating a HAVA Title III complaint?
Generally, HAVA Title III complaints are processed by the Elections Division's review of all the information submitted by the complainant and information gathered by the Elections Division about the circumstances of the situation. The information may be gathered by written correspondence or other means. Copies of the written information gathered will be sent to the complainant to provide them an opportunity for response or rebuttal to the information provided. A complainant shall be offered the opportunity to request a hearing on the record, which may be provided by telephone or in person. Such a hearing will be in an informal, fact-finding, problem-solving forum, involving the complainant and the subject of the complaint, with Elections Division employees acting as hearing moderators.
What is the result of a HAVA Title III complaint investigation?
The result of an investigation of a complaint of possible violations of HAVA Title III is the Elections Division's issuance of a final determination letter stating whether or not a violation occurred and providing any recommendations and remedies, with the goal of correcting any problems discovered. All determination letters will be posted on the Division's website. The remedy may involve possible actions by the Elections Division to provide better instructions, training or procedures to all election officials to avoid future violations. The Elections Division has a follow-up process and the complainant will be notified of the status of the follow-through on any recommendations and remedies. In any case, there are no provisions for the imposition of any civil penalties against the subject of the complaint or for any financial payments to complainants.
Is there a deadline for processing a HAVA Title III complaint?
The processing of a HAVA Title III complaint shall occur within 90 days from the date of receipt of the written complaint, although if necessary the Elections Division may request an extension from the complainant. If the matter is not handled within the 90-day decision deadline, or the Division determines the complaint warrants a higher level of review, an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) may be used.
What is the Alternative Dispute Resolution process?
The Alternative Dispute Resolution process involves volunteer panel members outside the Secretary of State's office, one of whom will convene a meeting of the interested parties to resolve the complaint. The ADR process is intended to be a consensus or cooperative outcome procedure (not an arbitration or mediation process model with adversaries or parties). The panel member will then recommend an outcome to the Secretary to be adopted within 60 days of the referral, with the Secretary adopting the recommendation or a revised version, as appropriate. Final determinations resulting from this process shall be distributed and publicized in the same as described above.