Secretary of State

Memorial Hall, 1st Floor
120 SW 10th Avenue
Topeka, KS 66612-1594
(785) 296-4564


For Immediate Release
Thursday, January 30, 2003

Contact Information
Jesse Borjon, Communications Director
Office of the Secretary of State
(785) 296-4580

Thornburgh Applauds White House Decision to Support
Initial $1.5 Billion Appropriation for Election Reform in Budget Bill

Topeka, KS — Calling it an historic day for democracy, Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh has issued a letter of thanks to Kansas's congressional delegation, and the White House for supporting the Senate's appropriation bill that would give state and local governments $1.5 billion to overhaul elections in the United States. The Senate approved the $390 billion-plus omnibus bill on January 23 and sent it to the House for consideration.

"Two days after the President previewed his budget for the coming year, election officials across the country are thrilled that election reform is part of the list," said Ron Thornburgh, Kansas Secretary of State. "It's truly a step forward for Kansas and our union. It took bipartisan commitment to make sure Kansas won't be left with unfunded mandates on election reform. We can now move forward with meeting the new federal requirements for elections without wondering where we will get the money to pay for the changes."

The Help America Vote Act, signed into law during the 107th Congress, authorizes a total of $3.9 billion over three years, beginning with $2.16 billion in fiscal year 2003. Approximately $650 million is authorized directly to states in 2003 to replace antiquated voting machines and improve election administration. The majority of funding, approximately $3 billion, is supposed to be distributed to states over three years according to a formula based on voter population. An additional $170 million is allocated to increase polling place access for disabled voters, improve voting technology, test voting equipment, and provide state advocacy systems for the disabled.

“We’re looking forward to working with the legislature to see that Kansas's share of the $1.5 billion gets to our state and county election officials as soon as possible,” said Thornburgh. “And during the next few months, we’ll be working with our congressional delegation to secure the remaining

HAVA mandates states to abide by specific federal requirements, including the following: provide voters an opportunity to correct ballot errors, implement a voting system with manual audit capacity, provide at least one disability-accessible voting machine per precinct, provide alternative language accessibility for voters, allow for provisional voting, and develop a centralized, statewide voter registration base. The bill also requires states to implement statewide voter identification requirements for first-time voters.

Currently, Ron Thornburgh is one of 37 secretaries of state that serve as the chief state election officer, a role that includes administering elections, helping local officials recruit and train poll workers, and managing statewide voter education programs.