WSR 04-22-046

EMERGENCY RULES

SECRETARY OF STATE


[ Filed October 28, 2004, 10:16 a.m. , effective October 28, 2004 ]


Purpose: The federal government passed HAVA and made the funding available to replace punch card voting and improve the administration of elections. No mechanism was outlined by the federal government as to how to distribute the funds other than a grant method may be used. RCW 29A.04.450 was passed giving the Secretary of State authority to create a grant program.

The rules will accomplish the creation of local government grant program and the distribution of funds to pay for the replacement of punch card voting and the improvement of election administration.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 29A.04.450.

Under RCW 34.05.350 the agency for good cause finds that state or federal law or federal rule or a federal deadline for state receipt of federal funds requires immediate adoption of a rule.

Reasons for this Finding: A mechanism must be in place to distribute the $62 million in federal funds allocated to the state for the implementation of the Help America Vote Act. The funds are to be used for the replacement of punch card voting machines, placement of disability access machines and the improvement of election administration. We received HAVA funds on August 10, 2004.

Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Comply with Federal Statute: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Federal Rules or Standards: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Recently Enacted State Statutes: New 12, Amended 0, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted at Request of a Nongovernmental Entity: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted on the Agency's Own Initiative: New 12, Amended 0, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Clarify, Streamline, or Reform Agency Procedures: New 12, Amended 0, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted Using Negotiated Rule Making: New 12, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Pilot Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Other Alternative Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.

Date Adopted: October 28, 2004.

Steve Excell

Assistant Secretary of State


NEW SECTION
WAC 434-390-010   Washington state local government grant program -- Purpose.   The purpose of the state local government grant program, administered by the office of the Secretary of State, is to provide financial assistance to local government officials to meet the mandates of the 2002 Help America Vote Act. This grants-in-aid program is a significant effort in the overall mission of the Secretary of State's office to provide a mechanism by which funds allocated by the Federal Government for the improvement of elections systems and processes may be distributed to county election offices. This grant program is governed by this chapter and by RCW 29A.04.450.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 434-390-020   Local government grant advisory board.   (1) The Secretary of State shall establish an Advisory Board charged with reviewing local government grant proposals. Membership of the Advisory Board shall be composed of a County Auditor from a county with more than 200,000 registered voters, an Auditor from a county with between 50,000 and 200,000 registered voters, an Auditor from a county with less than 50,000 registered voters, the state director of elections, and a member-at-large designated by the Secretary of State. The Secretary shall invite the president of the Auditor's association to recommend the three auditor members to serve on the committee. When making these recommendations the president should strive for appropriate geographic representation with their recommendations.

(2) The Advisory Board shall review and recommend to the Secretary which proposals to fund. The recommendation of the Advisory Board is not binding and the Secretary shall make the final determination on funding of all local government grant proposals. If the Secretary declines to fund a proposal, in all or part, recommended by the Board he or she shall issue a written explanation of the decision. The Advisory Board will monitor the grant process to assure that grant money is distributed equitably.

(3) The Advisory Board shall meet quarterly on the third Thursday of the first month of the quarter. The date of the regularly scheduled meeting of the Advisory Board may be moved to coincide with another meeting attended by the county auditors on the board.

(4) Travel expenses for the Advisory Board members shall be reimbursed in accordance with state travel reimbursement rates.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 434-390-030   Priorities of the grant program.   (1) Proposals designed to help local election officials meet the mandates of the Help America Vote Act shall be given the first priority when determining funding. Examples of Priority #1 proposals would include:

Punch card buy-out

DRE Funding

New voter registration or election management systems to integrate with the statewide voter registration database

HAVA poster

Development of a Free Access system for provisional ballots

Voter Registration forms

Provisional balloting materials

(2) All other proposals for HAVA funding shall be assigned to Priority #2. Priority #2 items are allowed under HAVA but not necessarily required by federal law. Examples of Priority #2 proposals would be:

Local Voters Pamphlets

Outreach/Education programs

Alternative Language requirements

Poll worker training

Voting equipment beyond the minimum HAVA requirement

Accessibility issues

(3) Each grant proposal shall indicate which priority, either one or two, the project is associated with. The Advisory Board shall review the applicant's assessment of the priority level of the proposal and make a recommendation to the Secretary accompanying the Board's recommendation on funding the proposal.

(4) Except as provided by this section, all proposals for HAVA funding will be submitted to the Advisory Board for review and assessment of a priority level prior to final review by the Secretary of State. An exception to this requirement exists for funds appropriated for the replacement of punch card voting systems and the installation of the minimum number of Disability Access machines, as required by HAVA and outlined in the state plan. This funding will be provided directly to counties as they purchase these systems.

(5) Grant requests received up to December 31, 2004 and totaling under $30,000 do not need to be reviewed by the Advisory Board and may be processed and funded at the Secretary's discretion.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 434-390-040   Eligible and ineligible activities.   (1) The following activities are eligible for support through grants administered pursuant to this chapter:

(a) Replacement or upgrade of voting equipment, including the replacement of punch card voting machines;

(b) Purchase of additional voting equipment, including the purchase of equipment to meet the disability requirements of the Help America Vote Act;

(c) Increasing accessibility to poll sites or election offices for disabled persons;

(d) Purchase of new election management system hardware and software capable of integrating with the statewide voter registration system required by the Help America Vote Act;

(e) Development and production of poll worker recruitment and training materials;

(f) Voter education programs;

(g) Publication of a local voters pamphlet;

(h) Toll-free access system to provide notice of the outcome of provisional ballots;

(i) Education and training for local election officials;

(j) Temporary personnel.

The above list is not meant to be inclusive, and other activities may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Local election offices may apply for a grant to retro-actively fund the purchase of election voter registration systems or vote tabulation systems that were purchased prior to the implementation date of the local government grant program. The Advisory Board may also recommend retroactively funding proposals that clearly further the goals of the Local Government Grant Program and HAVA.

(2) The following are examples of activities that are ineligible for support through grants administered pursuant to this chapter:

(a) Projects already completed, other than the purchase of voter registration systems or vote tabulation systems;

(b) Equipment nonessential to the conduct of election activities;

(c) Capital improvements to buildings, other than to facilitate accessibility;

(d) Payments to lobbyists;

(e) Hospitality expenses;

(f) Prizes/awards;

(g) Benefit activities (social, fundraisers, etc.);

(h) Educational outreach not related to elections;

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Reviser's note: The typographical error in the above section occurred in the copy filed by the agency and appears in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.
NEW SECTION
WAC 434-390-050   Eligible applicants.   Only County elections officials are eligible to apply for grants under this chapter.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 434-390-060   Evaluation of proposals.   (1) The Secretary of State will review grant applications for completeness, conformity to application requirements, soundness of budget, and relevancy to the objectives of the state local government grant program. The proposal may be returned to county election office making the application for further development or clarification, prior to application deadline. Additional information may be requested by the Secretary of State or the Advisory Board from the grant applicant and time shall be allowed for submittal of such material after the application deadline.

(2) A summary will be prepared by the Secretary of State for each complete application and forwarded to the Advisory Board. The committee will review the applications and make funding recommendations to the Secretary of State.

(3) The office of the Secretary of State will notify the applicant in writing as to the final disposition of all proposals.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 434-390-070   Grant application requirements.   (1) Secretary of State shall develop and make a template for grant proposals and shall make the template available online. The template shall be designed to capture all of the necessary information for determining the eligibility of the proposal and shall capture the appropriate information required for monitoring and auditing the grant.

(2) Local election officials from more than one county may submit one grant proposal for a project implemented in multiple counties.

(3) Prior to accepting a Priority 2 grant, the county must certify that they will be in full compliance with the provisions of HAVA by the deadlines established in the act.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 434-390-080   Grant calendar and process.   (1) The grant period for Priority #1 grants will begin on September 1, 2004 and remain open until September 30, 2005, during which time local election officials may submit grant proposals for Priority #1 projects. Funds in the amount of $30 million will be held in reserve from the Election Account for a period of a year to assure that all grant proposals for Priority #1 proposals will be funded.

(2) Priority #2 grant proposals may be submitted for review on a cyclical basis according to the following schedule;

1st Cycle - opening April 1, 2005 closing June 30, 2005.

2nd Cycle - opening July 1, 2005 closing September 30, 2005.

3rd Cycle - opening October 1, 2005 and closing December 31, 2005

4th Cycle - opening January 1, 2006 and closing March 31, 2006.

(3) Grant proposals for Priority #2 grants must be received by the last day of the cycle. If funds are available after the 3rd Cycle, additional grant cycles may be added until all of the funds in the Election Account have been expended.

(4) Funds in the amount of $20 million will be allocated to fund Priority #2 grants. Of the $20 million, $10 million will be protected, but not guaranteed, for a period of one year and made available to counties according to the number of registered voters to ensure that every county has an opportunity to receive funding for major purchases under Priority #2. The apportioned funds will be set aside for a period of 12 months to allow counties an opportunity to assess needs and submit their grants without the concern that other counties may deplete the fund.

(5) During each grant cycle up to $5 million will be available for competitive grant proposals, until the $20 million has been expended.

(6) Remaining monies in the Election Account not allocated to the grant cycles would be held in reserve for future prioritization. These monies could be allocated to statewide or county projects at any time by the Secretary.

(7) The Secretary of State may adjust the funding limits for each grant cycle or establish additional grant cycles at any time, based on a recommendation of the Advisory Board and the availability of funds, needs of counties, and information learned during the initial grant cycles.

(8) At the conclusion of the one year period for Priority #1 grants, the Secretary, upon recommendation of the Advisory Board, may move monies allocated to first priority grants and/or allocate funds held in reserve to the second priority grant program upon a determination that priority one grant needs have been met

(9) The grant payment and reporting schedule will be approved and published by the Advisory Board for each grant as long as eligible funds are available from the election account established in the state treasury by the legislature (RCW 29A.04.440). All unused grant funds and interest in possession of the grantee must be returned to the state local government grant program within sixty days of completion.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 434-390-090   HAVA endowment.   The Secretary of State may create an endowment from funds in the Election Account to provide a source of ongoing grant funds to be made available to local election officials for the improvement of election processes and procedures.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 434-390-100   Accounting.   Grantees must keep financial records in accordance with the accounting practices generally applicable to their local government accounting practices and apply approved record retention schedules. These records, as public records, shall be subject to inspection by the state elections staff and the Advisory Board. If any litigation, claim, or audit is begun before the end of the retention period, records must be retained until such proceeding is resolved.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 434-390-110   Auditing requirements.   Grantees must comply with the audit requirements set forth in state law for local government units. The grantee is responsible for ensuring that the state elections division receives copies of the audit report for any audit performed during the grant period, or for the following three years. Specific accounting requirements for the state local government grant program are:

(1) Grant money that is not used immediately to purchase goods or services from a vendor must be deposited in an auditable, interest-bearing account. Interest received must be applied to the project or returned to the Secretary of State.

(2) Grant work must be monitored in progress. The Secretary of State or his designee may visit the local election office for review at any time during the project.

(3) Changes in the approved grant, including changes of personnel, must be requested in writing to the Secretary of State.

(4) In the case of default by the grantee, the grant will be revoked and all unused funds must be returned to the state local government grant program. The Secretary of State will notify the grantee of default in writing.

(5) The grantee shall submit a final grant report within thirty (30) days of completion of the project.

(6) Grantees must submit copies of all invoices with the final report, and

(7) Grantees must adhere to local and state bid requirements and submit documentation with the final grant report.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 434-390-120   Conflicts of interest.   (1) The Advisory Board will not consider any proposal where a committee member or a member of the Secretary of State's staff derives compensation from the proposed grant.

(2) A board member shall abstain from reviewing or voting on proposals if she/he is directly or indirectly connected with a proposed project through employment at the same election office, (directly or) indirectly supervises the project, or serves as an unpaid consultant to the project.

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