What Has HAVA Wrought?

Mike Alvarez, Charles Stewart, Lonna Atkeson, Paul Gronke, and I are at the Bush v. Gore 10 Years Later Conference at UC Irvine (being held in Laguna Beach).

Charles has an amazing paper — really four papers — where he examines the policy process that got us to where we were with election administration. He starts first by examining how the policy problems were identified and articulated after Florida 2000 and how did these problems get married to policy solutions.  He explains how we went from Florida 2000 to HAVA in a really interesting fashion.

Second, how do we develop metrics for evaluating elections over time?  He considers an array of metrics and discusses the following ones.

  1. Do voting machines work better after HAVA? The answer here is yes.
  2. Are voting registration systems better?  Again, the answer here seems to be yes.
  3. Is accessibility better?  It is unclear but does seem to be.
  4. Do we have more or less voter fraud?  The data on fraud is quite skimpy and so this issue is difficult to evaluate.

Third, he considers how Florida 2000 gave certain policy issues a “free ride”. So what were the free rider issues that came from HAVA?

  1. The disability access issue led to the backlash to DREs that came after HAVA. He notes that the adoption path for technology had been black box to black box — levers to DREs — or paper to paper — paper to punch cards to optical scan.  When this switched — when people went from paper to DREs, the political world changed and the debate over DREs came to the fore.
  2. A second unintended consequence is the issue of voter identification.  The ID requirement was already there but election reform made it more salient.

Finally, Charles considers how whether people have learned anything since HAVA and Florida 2000. For example, does New York City consider the lessons from other states when they pass a new election law or adopt a new voting technology.