September 2007 Press Releases
Secretary of State Awards Grants to Vermont Towns - September 12, 2007
Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz awards $174,000 in grants to improve the administration of federal elections in Vermont.
September 12, 2007 Contact: Ginny Colbert - 802-828-2148
Secretary of State Awards $174,000 in Grants to
Montpelier. Today, Secretary of State Deb Markowitz announced that her office will be awarding $174,000 in grants to 89 municipalities to help them to continue to meet the mandates of the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). HAVA was signed into law on October 29, 2002, and requires every town to keep their voter registration data in a statewide voter registration database and requires every polling place to have technology available to permit people with disabilities to vote privately and independently.
Since the program began, 171 municipalities have received $280,000 in grants. Markowitz said, “Our grant program was so successful in 2006 that we decided to make additional money available to towns to make certain that they have what they need to ensure that our elections are well run.”
As in 2006, this year grants in amounts of up to $3,000 will be used to help fund services and equipment needed to improve the administration of Primary and General Elections. Towns with a checklist of over 3,000 voters were allowed to request additional funding.
Most of the costs for meeting the mandates of HAVA have been borne by the Secretary of State’s office. In 2004 the Secretary of State’s office received $16.6 million dollars in federal funds to help Vermont implement HAVA. Markowitz said, “We have been very careful in our spending of this federal money which has enabled us to create an election trust fund so that now, and into the future, we can ensure that the costs of meeting the many new federal mandates created by HAVA will not be shifted to the municipalities of Vermont.”
To date, the Secretary of State’s office has spent approximately $3,000,000 on complying with the requirements of HAVA. Markowitz said, “We were pleased that the legislature permitted us to establish this grant program to help our municipalities cover some of the incidental costs of the federal election reform mandates.”
Municipalities will be using the grants for equipment and services such as desktop or laptop computers, printers, installing a telephone line at the town’s polling place (so that they are able to use telephone voting equipment), installing satellite or broadband connections, and purchasing software and/or training related to preparing entrance checklists and reports.
A total amount of $450,000 will be paid to nearly 200 municipalities. The deadline for towns to request grant money was August 31st; however, additional grants will be made available to municipalities in future years.
In addition to providing general grants for the improvement of the administration of the federal elections, the Secretary of State’s office also awards funding to Vermont’s cities and towns to make their polling places accessible to voters with disabilities through the Voting Access for Individuals with Disabilities grant program. Since 2004, over $300,000 in grants have been awarded under this program. The maximum amount available to municipalities under this program is $5,000 to fund polling place accessibility improvements and information for voters with disabilities. Applications for the next round of Voting Access for Individuals with Disabilities grants are due September 26th.