Department of Justice Seal Department of Justice
MONDAY, MAY 1, 2006
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Justice Department Sues Alabama Over Voting Rights

Lawsuit Seeks Compliance with Federal Mandates

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department announced today that it has filed suit against the state of Alabama, alleging violations of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). With this lawsuit, Alabama becomes the second state in the nation to be sued by the Department of Justice for not complying with the database requirements of HAVA, after New York.

The government's complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama (Northern Division) in Montgomery, alleges that the state has failed to create and implement a statewide computerized voter registration database, which is required by HAVA. The government contends that Alabama missed the Jan. 1, 2006 federal deadline for completing the statewide database, and that, as of the date of this lawsuit, the state has not selected the database vendor who would start this process. This lawsuit was undertaken only after several contacts and extensive efforts by the Civil Rights Division to convince Alabama to meet its Federal obligations in a timely fashion.

"HAVA's database requirements are designed to ensure the accuracy of the voter rolls and the integrity of the electoral process in elections for Federal office," said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This lawsuit is intended to vindicate the rights of the voters of Alabama, who do not, at present, enjoy all of the protections that HAVA affords."

HAVA was enacted with bipartisan support after the 2000 presidential election and was signed into law by President Bush on Oct. 29, 2002. HAVA was the first federal statute to provide federal funds to states to support reform of federal elections. Alabama received over $41 million to assist it in meeting the federal mandates contained in HAVA. Under HAVA, if Alabama fails to comply with HAVA's various requirements, it runs the risk of losing some of these funds when it is audited by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency that is responsible for assuring state compliance in the expenditure of HAVA funds.

Today's lawsuit seeks a determination that the state has not fulfilled HAVA's database requirements, and an order requiring the state to submit a plan describing how it will come into compliance.