The passage of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) [Public Law 107-252, Help America Vote Act (HAVA)] had a dramatic impact on nearly every aspect of election administration. From voting machines to provisional ballots to voter registration to poll worker training, HAVA set new standards for states to meet.
One of the most significant mandates of HAVA required each state, acting through the Chief State Election Official, to establish no later than January 2006 an official, uniform and nondiscriminatory statewide computerized voter registration list that is centralized and interactive. While the system must allow local election officials to enter information and have access to the list, states must ensure that the Chief Election Official has overall responsibility and authority for the uniform voter registration list.
Florida enacted state legislation in 2003 (Chapter 2003-415, Laws of Florida) and 2005 (Chapter 2005-277 and 2005-278, Laws of Florida) to further implement this directive and incorporate the requirements into many aspects of the Florida Election Code. The development of a statewide voter registration system represented a collaborative effort which included input from Florida's 67 Supervisors of Elections, their staff, and vendors of voter registration systems currently in use by the counties.
In January 2006, the Florida Department of State launched the Florida Voter Registration System. In response to the new responsibilities mandated by HAVA, the Florida Department of State also established a new Bureau of Voter Registration Services. One of the primary responsibilities of the bureau is to conduct research on a case-by-case basis a personís potential ineligibility on the basis of a court order of mental incapacity or a felony conviction. The bureau compares data from the Department of Corrections, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Clerk of the Courts to assess the credibility and reliability of the information received on the personís potential ineligibility before that information is forwarded to the Supervisors of Elections for final determination.