Skip to main content

Help America Vote Act

> You may view the letter in PDF format.

U.S. Department of Justice

Civil Rights Division

Voting Section - G St.,        950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530
 January 13, 2003
Ms. Donna Kelly
Senior Deputy Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
P.O. Box 080
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0080      Re: Help America Vote Act of 2002, H.R. 3295 Dear Ms. Kelly: On November 19, 2002 you contacted the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the
Department of Justice with an inquiry regarding the effective date of the provisions of ァ303(b)
of the new Help America Vote Act of 2002 ("HAVA").   Your specific question was whether
States such as New Jersey are required to request identification at polling sites as of
January 1, 2003. We apologize for the delay in this response. The Department of Justice has been given enforcement authority for certain specified
provisions of HAVA under ァ401. As you are aware, ァ303(d)(2) provides the effective
dates for the identification requirements for mail-in registration outlined in ァ303(b):
ァ303(d)(2)(A) specifies that each State and jurisdiction shall "comply with the requirements
of subsection (b) [Requirements For Voters Who Register By Mail] on or after January 1, 2004,
and shall be prepared to receive registration materials submitted by individuals described
in subparagraph (B) on and after the date described in such subparagraph." Subparagraph (B)
specifies that "the provisions of subsection (b) shall apply to any individual who registers to
vote on or after January 1, 2003." Page 76 of the House of Representatives Conference Report on HAVA (Report 107-730,
October 8, 2002) provides that States and localities must "comply with provisions on mail
registration beginning January 1, 2004, except that they must be prepared to receive
stipulated mail-in registration materials beginning January 1, 2003." It is the Department's view that ァ303(d)(2) does not require New Jersey to request identification
at polling sites as of January 1, 2003. New Jersey will have to comply with the requirements
of ァ303(b) as of January 1, 2004, in all federal elections held after that date, including
requesting identification at polls when required under ァ303(b).   As of January 1, 2003,
New Jersey must be prepared to receive any mail-in voter registration materials that comply with
the requirements of ァ303(b) for any voter who is registering to vote in any upcoming federal
elections.   Therefore, under the combined effective dates of subparagraphs (A) and (B)
of ァ303(d)(2), the identification requirements for mail-in registrants will have to be applied
by New Jersey beginning in 2004 to any individuals who registered to vote on or after January 1,
2003, and who will be voting in any federal election held after January 1, 2004. Obviously, if during 2003 States are able to verify the identities of mail-in registrants by
matching their driver's license numbers or the last four digits of their social security
numbers under the procedures outlined in ァ303(b)(3), that will clearly reduce the need to
request identification materials at the polls during the 2004 elections.   However, HAVA
does not require States to do such matching until 2004.  We certainly urge all States
to begin implementing these matching procedures as soon as possible even though they will not
be legally required to do so until 2004. I trust this response answers your inquiry.  If you have any further questions regarding
this matter, please contact us again. Sincerely, Joseph D. Rich
Voting Section >
Updated August 6, 2015