IMPLEMENTING ELECTION REFORM IN THE CONTEXT OF AMERICAN FEDERALISM: THE CASE OF THE HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT (HAVA) OF 2002
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 marked the first time in U.S. history when federal funds were allocated for the administration of elections. This legislation put forth several minimum standards to be implemented across the states and was one of the rare federal interventions in election administration, which the state and local level governments had been traditionally responsible for managing. HAVA had a different reception across the states, which were responsible for developing HAVA implementation plans. Some states were able to meet the deadlines mandated by HAVA, while others found themselves in noncompliance in 2006--the final deadline for becoming HAVA-compliant. This variation in implementation prompted the research conducted by this dissertation. This dissertation thus looked into what factors account for the variation in the implementation of HAVA election reforms across the states? This research question was analyzed through the theoretical lenses of intergovernmental relations and federalism as well as policy implementation using the following research methods: literature review, case studies (of Maryland and New York), and a multivariate regression analysis conducted for all 50 states. I hypothesize that states with: 1) stronger power vis-à-vis localities, 2) nonpartisan election administration, 3) unified party control of the legislature, 4) government ideologies at the middle of the liberal-conservative continuum, and 5) lower median household levels are more likely to have higher levels of HAVA implementation. The results of the multivariate analysis revealed that partisanship was a statistically significant variable explaining the implementation of Section 101. This finding confirmed the hypothesized relationship that nonpartisan election administration is likely to be associated with higher levels of HAVA implementation. Also, the results reveal that state election administration control is a statistically significant variable, but not in the expected direction, suggesting that less state control, i.e. devolution to lower tiers of government, is more propitious for the implementation of Section 102. Additionally, state government ideology was also found to be a statistically significant variable, with scores closer to the most conservative value along the liberal-conservative continuum leading to higher levels of implementation of Section 251.
NotesDegree awarded: Ph.D. Public Administration and Policy. American University
Degree grantorAmerican University. School of Public Policy