Select a state by clicking on the map or using the dropdown menu to show information regarding changes to voting laws in that state. Choosing a layer displays which states have made changes to voting laws of the specified type since 2004. Choosing a layer is not necessary to select and view the information about the states.
Voting: The District of Columbia has had 3 electoral votes in presidential elections since 1961, and has supported Democrats in all 14 of the elections since then. Even George McGovern, who won only 17 electoral votes in 1972, got 78% of the District’s votes. In the 6 most recent presidential elections, D.C. has supported Democratic candidates with percentages ranging from a low of about 85.2% in 1996 to 90% or higher since 2008 (Barack Obama received 92.46% of the District’s vote in 2008). One “faithless” elector abstained in 2000, protesting the lack of voting representation in Congress for the District. Since D.C. has been consistently Democratic, it has never been in the “swing” category.
Felon disenfranchisement: In July, 2020, following action by the major, the DC Council passed the Restore the Vote Amendment, allowing those incarcerated in federal prisons to vote while behind bars. The District joins Maine and Vermont in ending criminal disenfranchisement. In 2016, the District’s Board of Elections joined with the D.C. Office of Human Rights and other partners to take absentee ballots to those incarcerated in DC jails who were awaiting trial or held on non-felony convictions.
College student voting: Students attending college or university in D.C. may register using their campus address. All applicants have to provide proof of D.C. residence, and for students, this can be a current term tuition or housing bill from their D.C. educational institution. The D.C. voter registration form requires the last 4 digits of a person’s social security number if they do not have a D.C. driver’s license or D.C. ID number.
High school student registration: In the District of Columbia, anyone over 16 years of age can register to vote. Upon request, the D.C. Board of Election will hold a registration drive at a public, private, parochial, or charter school. A seventeen-year old who will be 18 by the time of the general election is allowed to vote in the primary election. Those over 16 may also serve as student election workers on election day.
Mail-in ballots: This year, the District of Columbia introduced mail-in ballots in light of the COVID crisis. All active registered voters were sent a mail-in ballot in early October. With concerns about mail delays, D.C. also stipulated they would accept ballots postmarked by November 3rd for ten days following the election.
Absentee ballots: D.C.’s mail-in ballots are essentially no-excuse absentee ballots.
Early voting: The District of Columbia permits a week of early voting. Voters may go to any one of 32 locations in the city to vote (they do not have to vote in their own ward, but there are 4 locations per ward).
Same-Day Registration: D.C. allows voters to register the same day as the election. This went into effect in 2010.
Restrictions on Groups Registering Voters: The Brennan Center for Justice found no specific regulation of community groups registering voters (conducting voter registration drives) in the District of Columbia.
In the 2018 election, Michiganders approved Proposal 3 on the ballot which implemented several new voting procedures. The first was no-excuse absentee voting, before this Michiganders had to supply a reason to receive an absentee ballot. Michiganders currently do not need an ID to vote absentee, they need to sign an affidavit stating that they are who they say they are, this will be compared to their signature on record. If a voter signs this affidavit on an absentee ballot, it will automatically be marked as a challenged ballot as must be compared closely on election day.
No-excuse absentee ballot applications were also sent automatically this year to all registered voters. Additionally, a Judge authorized that ballots may be counted if the ballot is received up to two weeks after election day; however, the appeals court overturned this ruling and reinstated the original rule.
In 2016, the Michigan legislature attempted to pass a bill to remove the affidavit option for both absentee and in-person voting, citing fraud concerns. While the bill was passed in the State Legislature, it failed to make traction in the State Senate.
Michigan currently offers in-person early/ in-person absentee voting, in which any registered voter can go to their county clerk’s office and vote. This year in-person absentee voting started on Sept. 24. Before 2018 people had to have a reason to request early voting, but because of proposal 3, any registered voter can vote early.
Michigan was long considered to be part of the Democrats’ “Blue Wall”, however in the 2016 presidential election, it narrowly went to Trump by less than a percentage point. It is now considered to be more of a swing state. Currently, both Biden and Trump are actively competing for the state.
Rules governing groups registering voters have slightly shifted. New laws have said that groups can now register votes online after said group goes through a security review which functions to “ensure compatibility with the state’s platform.” These groups do not require training, and Michigan does not require an official volunteer system.
College students who plan to vote in Michigan are allowed to use their school’s address to register to vote, even if they are out-of-state students. Students with a Michigan driver’s license or ID can register online, otherwise, they must register via paper application. Students should note that if they register using their school address and they are a Michigan resident, their license or ID will need to match that address change. Students won a legal victory in 2019 allowing them to register at the college address and being automatically mailed a new driver’s license to match that address by the state.
Michigan allows soon-to-be voters in high school to pre-register to vote if they will turn 18 by the next general election. The League of Women Voters is particularly active in several counties in Michigan and regularly holds high school voting drives.
Michigan voters must bring an acceptable photo ID to vote at the polls. These IDs include a driver’s license, state or federally issued ID card, passport, student ID, military ID, or tribal ID. If you do not have a photo ID, you must sign an affidavit stating you did not have a photo ID. As previously mentioned the legislature has tried to do away with this rule. Photo ID cards are also available at any Secretary of State for $10. The charge can be waived in cases of disability, senior citizenship, or for someone who presents a good cause.
Michigan felons have full voting rights once released from prison. Michigan does not require felons to do anything in order to get voting rights restored. They are given automatically. This includes felons who are on parole or probation. This policy has been in place past 2004, however many eligible felons often do not vote because they believe they can’t.
In order to cast an absentee ballot in West Virginia, you need to have a reason to not be able to vote in-person, and fill out an absentee ballot application. For this year, concerns about COVID-19 is a valid excuse to not vote in-person. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is October 28th. For first time Read about permalinks(opens in a new tab)
In 2016, West Virginia legislature passed new voter-id laws. To cast an in-person ballot, voters need to present a valid and non-expired government issued ID. However, voters that forget their photo id are able to cast a provisional ballot. As long as they present their id to a county clerk’s office before the official canvass the vote will be counted. Additionally, if another registered voter states under oath that the person is who he or she claims to be, then that person may vote.
College students may choose to register to their campus address and vote in the West Virginia election. Students’ school issued id is an accepted form of identification to vote.
In 2013, West Virginia enacted legislation that paved the way for the creation of online voter registration system which was implement in 2015. Additionally, in 2016, the state enacted an automatic voter registration law. This law would automatically register people at the DMV, unless a person specifically opts out. Despite the law being passed four years ago, this system has still not been implemented. The deadline to implement automatic voter registration has continued to be pushed back with the latest deadline sitting in 2021.
In 2018, West Virginia became the first state to authorize voting by mobile devices in federal and elections. This program is only eligible to overseas military service members, and allows service members to cast ballots even when they do not have access to mail service. This year, West Virginia has expanded this service to allow voters with physical disabilities to cast a vote electronically.
Felons in West Virginia lose the right to vote upon conviction. Enfranchisement is restored upon completion upon the completion of the sentence, which includes prison, parole, and probation. However, citizens must re-register to vote once they have completed their sentence.
For Maine, there is no-excuse needed to complete an absentee ballot; therefore, any registered voter can cast an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots must be requested by October 29th, and need to be returned by 8 o’clock on election night.
There is no id required to vote absentee or in-person. However, you do need to show an id if you are not registered to vote on election day and want to go vote. Additionally, if you are a first-time voter that registered to vote by mail and did not provide an id upon registering, then you need to bring an id to vote in-person as well.
Despite having lenient voter-id laws in Maine, laws about making voter-id much stricter is still a heavily debated topic in the state. There have repeated attempts from the Republican party to implement strict voter-id laws such as in 2009, 2012, and 2019.
There is no cut-off day for registering to vote in-person at a town office or city hall, meaning that you can still register to vote on Election Day.
Since 2005, Maine has implemented and expanded its early voting program. This year, the early voting period runs from October 5th to the 30th. However, dates and hours may vary depending on where you live.
Soon-to-be voters at age 16 can pre-register to vote. Additionally, if you are 17 during a primary but will turn 18 by the general election, then you can vote in the primary election. In 2004, a unsuccessful bill was proposed to lower the voting age to 17.
Maine does not disenfranchise persons in prison. Maine is one of only two states that allow felons to vote, with the other state being Vermont.
In Maine, the Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions encourages and provides resources to students to create voter registration drives at their schools. The cut off date for to register to vote through a voter registration drive is the close of business on the 15th day before the election. For 2020, this date would be on October 19th.
In 2019, Maine became the first state to implement ranked choice voting in the presidential election. Since 2018, Maine has used ranked choice in state elections. However, this election will be the first time that ranked choice has ever been used in a presidential race. Instead of choosing one candidate, voters will be able to rank all of the candidates in order of preference. Votes are tallied into rounds, and after each round one candidate is eliminated until there are two candidates remaining. The winner is the candidate that receives the majority of the votes in the final round. This process ensures that the winner of the election receives the majority of people’s votes.
Along with Nebraska, Maine have diverged from the traditional winner-take-all method have implemented an alternative method of distributing electoral votes. The winner of each congressional district (there are only two) receives one electoral vote, and the winner of the state-wide vote is awarded the remaining two electoral votes. In 2016, President Trump received one electoral vote, while Hillary Clinton won three, because Trump won one congressional district.
New Mexico has a no-excuse absentee/mail-in voting. Due to COVID-19, New Mexico slightly altered the procedures for absentee and mail-in voting. The state sent out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters throughout the state. The final day to request an absentee ballot is October 20th.
This year, mail-in voters are now able to track their mail-in ballots through each ballots individualized bar codes,
Early voting in New Mexico runs from October 6th to the 31st. Due to record turnout of people voting early, county clerks have opened more voting locations throughout the state.
When voting, an id is only needed for first time voters that registered by mail, and did not provide identification with their registration application form. However, there are some municipal jurisdictions in the state that require voter id in order to vote in city elections. In 2012 and 2016, there was legislation proposing the introduction voter-id laws, but they both ultimately failed.
In 2019, the state passed legislation for same-day and automatic voter registration. Now, voters are able to register as late as the day of the election, and still be able to vote. Additionally, this legislation enables people to automatically be registered to vote upon receiving their driver’s license. In 2015, New Mexico also enacted online voter registration.
Currently, the state disenfranchises anyone serving a sentence in prison, probation, and parole. Additionally, the current system makes it difficult for former convicts and felons to be able to vote once their enfranchisement is restored. State agencies do not keep full and proper records of everyone that has completed their sentence. Additionally, one needs to receive a Certificate of Discharge; however, many individuals have not received this certificate by the time of election days. Recently, there have been recent attempts to repeal these acts of voter suppression. In December 2018, democrats proposed legislation that would eradicate felony disenfranchisement in the state.
In 2007, New Mexico rejected Senate Bill 666, which would have allocated New Mexico’s five electoral votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote. In 2019, New Mexico Governor signed the National Popular Vote bill, which pledged the state to giving all of its electoral votes to the nationwide popular vote winner if enough states agree to the same bill.
17 year olds are able to complete the voter registration forms for elections, but cannot sign any petitions . Additionally, 17 year olds who will be 18 by the general election can participate in the primary election.
New Mexico permits third party voter registration agents to assist registering voters. However, third party agents must attend a training, and they must register with the Secretary of State’s Office.
As it currently stands, and since before 2004, Iowa has no requirements for absentee voting, i.e the resident does not have to prove that they will be away or unable to make it to the polls on election day. In anticipation of the Presidential election occurring in a pandemic, for the first time, absentee voting applications were sent to all registered voters. However, to receive an absentee ballot, all Iowans must fill out a written form requesting an absentee ballot and mail it back to the Secretary of State’s office. The absentee ballot request must be received by the local county auditors’ office eleven dates before the election.
However, all voters requesting an absentee ballot must provide proof of a valid Iowa Drivers License or Non-Operators License, or an Iowa Voter ID Card, which can be gotten by requesting one from their county auditor, there is no cost associated with the card. There is no other form of in mail voting in Iowa.
The card was part of a controversial 2017 voting law enacted by the Republican legislator. Parts of the law, including the voter ID card, was upheld in court, while other parts of the law, including allowing election officials to contest signatures on registered voter’s application and prohibit voter ID cards being distributed to people who already had a drivers license.
Currently, there is early voting/ in-person absentee voting in Iowa. Early voting started on Oct. 5th this year ahead of the Nov. 3rd election. A large percentage of Iowans vote early, with 43% and 41% respectively voting early in the 2012 and 2014 elections.
This 2017 law also created the rule that Iowans had to present some form of valid ID at the polls, a valid ID includes Iowa Voter Identification Card, Iowa Driver’s License, Iowa Non-Operator ID, U.S. Military ID or Veteran ID, U.S. Passport, or Tribal ID Card/Document. However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Iowans will be allowed to use IDs that expired in 2020 that they have been unable to get renewed due to the pandemic. This law also makes it more difficult for college students to vote, with one of the suits against this law being brought by a college student. This law excludes college IDs as a valid form of identification. In addition to making it harder for college students to vote under the 2017 law, the state legislature also unsuccessfully tried to bar early voting locations from being opened on college campuses in 2019. However, that bill failed to pass into law.
As of 2019, 17-year-olds are allowed to pre-register for voting in Iowa, provided that they are 18 when they vote for the first time. High schools currently are required to hold voter registration drives, a policy that continues to hold bipartisan support.
Any independent party in Iowa can hold a voter registration drive without registering with the Secretary of State, however they need to return the collected forms to the local county auditor’s office within seven days of registering.
On August 5th, 2020 Iowa became the last state in America to end permanent felony disenfranchisement. The governor signed an executive order allowing felons who had committed their sentence, including parole and probation, except for those who had committed a homicide felon, would have their voting rights restored to them. An estimated 45,000 Iowans had their voting rights restored. There are no other requirements for felons to restore their right to vote. Felon disenfranchisement is seen as particularly racial motivated in Iowa, as only 4% of Iowa’s population is Black, but African Americans make up 25% of Iowa’s prison population.
President Obama won Iowa in both 2008 and 2012, while President Trump carried the state in 2016. Iowa is considered a swing state that currently leans more to the right, however, it is seen as in play in the 2020 presidential election, with current polls showing Biden and Trump neck to neck.
Illinois enacted a no-excuse mail-in voting law in 2009, and the policy was operational in 2010. On June 16, 2020, the governor signed SB 1863 and HB 2238 into law, making the 2020 general election the first time Illinois automatically sent mail-in ballot applications to recently active and newly registered voters. Registered voters who had not voted recently received information about how to apply for a mail-in ballot but not an official application.
In 2006, early (no-excuse) voting was permitted in Illinois by Public Act 94-0492. This regulation allowed early voting to occur from the 22nd through the 5th day prior to an election. In 2015, SB 172 expanded early voting access, extending it through the Monday prior to Election Day. Permanent early voting sites are required to be open beginning 15 days prior to an election, including weekends. Temporary early voting sites may open as many as 40 days prior to an election.
In 2017, SB 1933 introduced automatic voter registration, making Illinois the first state with a Republican governor to do so. The law required the online voter service infrastructure to be updated and for voter registration to be an opt-in, rather than opt-out process upon interaction with one of several government agencies. The state has faced issues implementing these changes in a complete and timely manner.
In 2014, the enactment of HB 105 allowed for same-day voter registration along with other changes, but only through that year’s Nov. 4th election. In 2015, SB 0172 made same-day voter registration permanent. Counties with fewer than 100,000 residents are permitted to opt out of the requirement at some of their polling stations, as long as the option is available at the county’s main elections office. There was significant litigation surrounding this law, though it took effect in time for the 2016 general election.
Convicted felons in Illinois lose the right to vote but voting rights are reinstated upon completion of a prison sentence, though individuals must re-register; those on probation or parole are also allowed to vote. Though not a formal change in felony disenfranchisement rules, SB 2090 in 2019 expanded voting access and information in Illinois jails. It established a process for eligible detainees to vote and the creation of polling places within some county jails. The law also mandates that eligible voters in custody be notified of their right to vote and provided a voter registration application.
In 2012, the democratic legislature and governor placed stricter rules on voter registration drives. Rather than allowing seven days to return completed forms, the new law allows two days by first class mail or seven days for hand-delivery. Groups using the national voter registration application are exempt.
Thanks to HB 0226 in 2013, 17 year-olds may register and vote in a primary election as long as they turn 18 before the general/consolidated election. In 2016, HB 6167 expanded on 17-year-old voting rights by allowing participation in primaries at the local level (as long as the voter will be 18 by the general election). It also allowed 17 year-olds to pre-register.
Beginning in 2015, SB 172 made it easier for college students to vote by stipulating that early voting and “grace period” (i.e. late) registration would be made available in Student Unions between 10 AM and 7 PM Wednesday through Saturday preceding each general election.
Most Illinois voters do not need to present any form of ID to vote, including when voting absentee (by mail). In accordance with federal law, first time voters who register by mail without submitting ID are an exception. These voters need to provide proof of name and address before voting using one of the documents below, or they may cast a provisional ballot. Same-day registration requires voters to show two forms of ID, one of which must contain the voter’s current address.
Illinois has voted Democratic in the past 6 presidential elections and is has not been a swing state in recent elections.
Massachusetts has not passed permanent no-excuse mail-in voting. Voters can only request an absentee ballot if they fall into one of the three categories. However, under a July 2020 law, any voter can vote by mail (without an excuse) only in 2020 elections in response to COVID 19. The Secretary of the Commonwealth was required to send a mail-in ballot request application to all registered voters.
The Commonwealth legalized early voting through a 2014 election reform law. Early voting debuted in 2016, and runs from 11 days through 2 days prior to biennial statewide November elections. A law passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic provided a temporary expansion of early voting options only for 2020 elections. The law introduced seven days of early voting ahead of the September primary and expanded the early voting window prior to the general election to 14 days.
As part of the 2014 election reforms, Massachusetts created an online voter registration system, which became operational in 2015. Individuals without a driver’s license or any RMV identification still must submit a paper voter registration application. In 2018, Massachusetts passed an automatic voter registration law, which took effect January 1, 2020. This means eligible residents are registered by default when they interact with the RMV or MassHealth, the Commonwealth’s health insurance system.
Massachusetts has seen repeated attempts over several years to implement same-day registration, including a 2017 court case, legislation in 2008, 2014, and 2018 (among other years), and most recently in 2020; Despite these efforts, no same-day registration policy has been enacted as of October 2020.
Convicted felons in Massachusetts lose the right to vote while incarcerated. Voting rights are restored automatically upon release from prison. In recent years, there has been a push to amend the Massachusetts constitution in order to restore felon voting rights. However, this is a long process and is unlikely to conclude in the near future.
The Commonwealth makes it easy for groups to register voters. There are no restrictions on voter registration drives beyond the typical rules governing registration.
In May 2014, Massachusetts enacted HB 3788, allowing 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote. This rule took effect in August 2016. Massachusetts election law is college student-friendly, particularly the lack of voter ID requirements. Massachusetts residents who attend college away from their home address may request an absentee ballot.
Massachusetts generally does not require an ID to vote, including when requesting or returning an absentee ballot. Under federal law, first time voters who registered by mail and did not submit any form of identification are required to show ID the first time they vote in a federal election. Otherwise, voters may be requested to present identification if:
An ID must display the name and the address with which an individual registered to vote. Except in the case of federal requirements, voters who fail to show ID must still be allowed to vote normally. However, these ballots are challenged and must be reviewed in the event of a recount, court order, or audit.
To vote in Oregon, one must meet the following qualifications:
A qualified individual may register to vote online, by mail, or in person at their local county election office. (Qualified college students may register to vote using their Oregon school address.) Oregon does not offer same-day registration. In order to vote in an election, a person’s voter registration form must be received by election officials or postmarked no later than the twenty-first day before the election.
Since 2004, Oregon has made it significantly easier to register to vote, and there has been a noticeable increase in the number of registered voters in the state. In 2007, Oregon enacted pre-registration for qualified individuals who are seventeen (17) years of age. The state lowered the pre-registration age to sixteen (16) years in 2017.
Oregon authorized online voter registration in 2009. The following year, the state created its online registration system, OreStar/My Vote. An applicant must possess a valid Oregon driver license or identification card to use the system.
In 2016, Oregon became the first state to implement automatic voter registration. Under Oregon Motor Voter, any Oregon resident who is a U.S. citizen, who is at least sixteen (16) years of age, and who has a ‘qualifying interaction’ with the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (i.e., to apply for, renew, or replace an Oregon drivers license, ID card, or permit) will receive a mailing from the Oregon Elections Division explaining their options for registering to vote. The individual can use the mailing to register as a non-affiliated voter, to join a political party, or to opt-out and decline to register to vote. The individual has twenty-one (21) days to sign and return the mailing; otherwise, the individual will be automatically registered to vote as a non-affiliated voter. There was a significant increase in the number of registered voters between the 2014 general election and the 2016 general election.
Rules Governing Registration Drives
Registration drive organizers can request large numbers of registration forms. In 2017, Oregon began allowing qualified individuals to register to vote by having a third party deliver the completed registration form by mail or in person. Third parties (including those conducting registration drives) have five (5) calendar days to deliver completed registration forms to election officials. It is illegal to affect registration by subjecting a person to ‘undue influence.’ (See ORS 260.665.)
Voter ID Laws
Oregon identification requirements for registration and voting have not changed significantly since 2004. In cases where Oregon Moter Voter does not apply, to register to vote, an applicant must provide a valid Oregon driver license or state identification card number, the last four digits of their social security number, or a copy of an acceptable identification (e.g., a utility bill) that shows their name and current address. No additional identification is required to cast a ballot.
In 2000, Oregon became the first state to implement vote-by-mail in all elections. (Registered voters may still vote in person. See ORS 254.474.) Oregon sends all registered voters within the state a ballot between fourteen (14) and twenty (20) days before the election. All ballots must be received by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Voters may return their ballots by mail or by depositing them in any official drop box in the state. The state now pays for postage to return ballots as a result of the passage of SB 861 in 2019, and the Secretary of State determines criteria for the establishment of dropsites.
Since 2013, a person may return a ballot on behalf of another voter, but they must do so within two (2) days of receiving the ballot. Since 2014, Oregon has allowed voters to correct signature discrepancies. County clerks must notify voters by mail of any discrepancy. Voters must complete and return the certified statement accompanying the notice within fourteen (14) days after the election for their ballots to be counted.
There has been a moderate increase in turnout rates since the introduction of vote-by-mail. Oregon boasts high turnout rates in general elections. The average turnout rate in general elections since 2000 is just above seventy-five percent.
The Secretary of State has provided information to voters displaced by the 2020 fires in Oregon.
Election Results since 1996
Oregon is not a swing state and has voted consistently Democratic in the last six (6) presidential elections. However, the Election of 2000 was particularly close, with Al Gore receiving less than 7,000 more votes than George W. Bush. Democratic candidates have enjoyed more comfortable margins since then.
An individual convicted of a felony may not vote from the date of their sentencing until they are released from prison or their conviction is set aside. (See ORS 137.281.) However, they may still register to vote while in prison. Their right to vote is automatically restored upon their release from prison. All others in the criminal justice system (including those on probation or parole) maintain their right to vote. Individuals in federal correctional facilities may neither register nor vote.
Qualified residents are able to register online, by mail, or in person at their local county recorder’s office. Arizona was one of the first states to allow its residents to register online, creating EZ Votes in 2002. Arizona does not offer same-day registration. With a few exceptions, election officials must receive an applicant’s form at least twenty-nine (29) days before the election in which the applicant intends to vote. The statutory deadline for voter registration for the 2020 general election is October 5. However, Arizona extended the deadline to October 15 in compliance with a court order.
In 2004, Arizona passed a ballot initiative called the “Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act” (Proposition 200) with fifty-five (55) percent of the vote. Part of the law required proof of citizenship from applicants using federal voter registration forms. In Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. (2013), the Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit’s decision to strike down this requirement, holding that the requirement was preempted by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. However, the Court allowed Arizona to retain its proof of citizenship requirement for applicants who want to vote in state elections.
In 2014, the United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) denied a request by Kansas and Arizona to change the federal registration form to allow the states to require proof of citizenship. The two states sought judicial review, and the Tenth Circuit ruled against the states. The Supreme Court refused to review the lower court’s decision, allowing the Tenth Circuit’s ruling stand.
The upshot is that to vote a ‘full ballot’ (i.e., to vote in all state and federal elections), an applicant must provide proof of their citizenship when registering to vote (e.g., an Arizona driver license or identification card number). Voters who do not fulfill the state’s requirement may not vote in state elections but may use a federal registration form to vote in federal elections.
Rules Governing Registration Drives
Third parties may distribute voter registration forms. According to Arizona state law, “[a] county recorder may provide voter registration forms in quantity to groups and individuals that request forms for conducting voter registration drives.” Additionally, “[a] county recorder may designate additional voter registration volunteers…[who] may provide state mail in registration forms to persons who wish to register to vote.”
In 2011, Arizona issued new restrictions on candidates, political committees, and other third party organizations that distribute and collect early voting applications. Organizations must submit any and all completed applications in their possession within six (6) business days after receipt or eleven (11) days before the election, whichever is earlier. Failure to do so will result in a penalty of twenty-five (25) dollars per day for each completed form withheld from submission. Furthermore, it is a felony to knowingly fail to submit another’s completed early ballot request form before the submission deadline for the election immediately following the completion of the form.
Voter ID Laws
Passed in 2004, the “Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act” (Proposition 200) requires that voters present sufficient valid ID in order to vote in person. Election officials are responsible for verifying a voter’s information and immigration status.
State law dictates that to vote in person, a voter must present sufficient photo ID, which may be a valid Driver License/Non-Operating License, Tribal Card, or other form of Federal or Local ID. If a voter does not bring a photo ID with them to the polls, they are required to bring two forms of identification showing proof of residency from the past ninety (90) days, e.g., utilities bills, property taxes, bank statements, or valid vehicle registration. Voters who do not provide sufficient valid identification may vote using a provisional ballot. Provisional voters must present sufficient identification to their county recorder by 5:00 p.m. on the fifth business day after the election if the election included a federal race, or by 5:00 p.m. on the third business day after any other election.
Some college students have complained that Arizona makes it difficult for students to vote. In 2019, the election manual noted that while most student IDs are not accepted at the polling place, a student voter can use a public university-issued ID that displays the student’s address, as this counts as a government-issued ID.
Early Voting and Absentee Voting
According to state law, any registered voter may request an official early ballot within ninety-three days of an election and before 5:00 p.m. on the eleventh day before the election. Absentee voters may return their ballots by mail or by dropping them off in drop-boxes or voting locations without having to provide additional identification. Arizona pays for postage to return absentee ballots. A registered voter may also vote at an appropriate on-site early voting location until 5:00 p.m. the Friday before the election. As a result of a 2019 law, voters who choose to fill out their ballots at an on-site early voting location must present sufficient valid identification. Otherwise, they must vote using provisional ballots. Election officials must receive all absentee ballots no later than 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.
In 2008, Arizona began requiring each county’s on-site early voting locations to be open and operational on the same day that the county began to distribute early ballots. Since 2015, election officials may not begin distributing early ballots until the twenty-seventh day before an election.
Arizona authorized a permanent early voting list in 2007. By 2020, most voters voted by mail. It does not appear that the implementation of the permanent early voting list has had a significant effect on overall turnout rates in general elections. However, there was a noticeable increase in turnout rates in primary elections beginning with the 2010 primary election. It is unclear whether this increase was due to the implementation of permanent early voting.
Allowing Arizona voters to obtain permanent early voter status has made it slightly easier to vote by mail. However, the state has also made voting more difficult for many. In 2016, Arizona passed HB 2023, restricting the people who may return a ballot on behalf of a voter to the voter’s family members, household members, or caretakers. All others may be convicted of a felony. Governor Doug Ducey claimed that the law “restores the public’s respect for a process that had potentially dangerous implications and provided too much opportunity for fraud and tampering with an election.” Opponents have argued that the law makes voting significantly more difficult for multiple groups of voters who rely on ‘ballot harvesting’ initiatives, especially racial or ethnic minorities. An en banc Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law would disproportionately harm racial minorities, but the Supreme Court blocked the Ninth Circuit’s ruling a few days before the 2016 election. As a result of a new round of litigation, the Supreme Court announced that it will weigh in on the dispute. The law will remain in effect through Election Day (November 3, 2020).
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act
Election Results since 1996
Arizona has voted for the Republican candidate in the last five (5) presidential elections. However, some see Arizona as an increasingly purple state, and there is a reasonable chance that Joe Biden will win the state in the 2020 presidential election.
A person convicted of a felony under either state or federal law may not vote until they complete their sentence. In 2019, Arizona enacted a bill that supposedly makes it slightly easier for those convicted of felonies to have their right to vote restored. However, the process is still extremely difficult.
At the time of sentencing, the court must inform a person of their right to restoration of civil rights. For a person’s first and only one-count felony conviction, the person’s right to vote will be automatically restored (1) after the person receives an absolute discharge from imprisonment or completes probation and (2) after the person pays in full any victim restitution imposed. The aforementioned bill abolished the additional requirement that a person pay any outstanding fines in order to have one’s civil rights restored.
If a person has been convicted of two or more felonies, or if the person has not paid in full any victim restitution imposed, the person must apply to have their right to vote restored. A person who was incarcerated can apply no sooner than two (2) years after the date they received an absolute discharge from imprisonment. If the person only served probation, they may apply upon completing probation. If the court grants the application, the court will restore the person’s rights. If the court denies the application, the court must state its reasons for the denial in writing.
Co-authors: Bess Markel and Jason Wong
To vote in Hawaii, one must meet the following qualifications:
An individual who is qualified to vote may register if they provide a valid Hawaii driver license number, state identification card number, or the last four digits of their social security number. If an individual is registering to vote for the first time but does not have a Hawaii driver license, a state identification card, or a social security number, they must attach to their application a copy of a “current and valid photo identification” or “current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows [the individual’s] name and address.” Individuals at sixteen (16) years of age and who are otherwise qualified to vote may pre-register. Pre-registered individuals will become automatically registered upon turning eighteen (18) years of age. Qualified individuals who are seventeen (17) years of age and will be eighteen (18) years of age at the next election may register to vote in that election.
In 2012, Hawaii authorized online voter registration for the 2016 primary election and all subsequent elections. Applicants must possess a Hawaii driver license or state identification card in order to register online. The number of registered voters increased significantly between the 2014 general election and the 2016 primary election, though it is unclear to what extent the online voter registration system contributed to this increase.
In 2014, Hawaii authorized late registration, including same-day registration. The law went into effect in 2018.
By implementing an online voter registration system and authorizing same-day registration, Hawaii has made it easier for qualified individuals to register to vote.
Rules Governing Registration Drives
The state’s Office of Elections encourages registration drives, and there is minimal regulation of registration drives conducted by outside (i.e., non-state) entities. The Office provides voter registration forms and one-time absentee applications in bulk to those who submit a request form.
Voter ID Laws
Before 2018, individuals registering to vote in state elections only needed to provide the last four digits of their social security number. In 2016, Hawaii brought state election law into conformity with Section 303 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002. As a result of the change in the law, starting in 2018, each applicant must provide sufficient valid identification. (See section on voter registration, below.)
Prior to the 2020 election cycle, voters choosing to vote in person were required to present identification at the request of an election official and sign their name in the poll book (unless the chairperson of the precinct waived this requirement). This requirement was repealed in 2019 by the same act that established mail-only elections. (See Section 52 of HB 1248.) Registered voters do not need to provide additional identification when they cast their ballots.
Early Voting and Absentee Voting
Prior to the 2020 election cycle, there were two methods by which voters could cast their ballots early. First, a voter could vote in person by visiting a voter service center or polling place within ten (10) working days before Election Day. Second, a voter could vote by mail either as a permanent absentee voter or as a one-time absentee voter.
According to the state legislature, the 2014 Hawaii primary election was the first election in which more ballots were submitted before primary election day than on that day. A similar outcome was observed in the 2016 general election.
It is likely that the rising popularity of early voting was partially a result of changes to absentee voting rules. Absentee voting has become significantly easier since 2004. In 2008, the state authorized permanent absentee voting, allowing registered voters to apply for permanent absentee status after the sixtieth day and before the seventh day prior to Election Day. Beginning in 2011, the state allowed voters to apply for permanent absentee status at any time before the seventh day prior to Election Day. The state allowed a permanent absentee voter to temporarily receive a ballot at an alternate address for elections within an election cycle starting in 2016.
Since 2008, a higher proportion of voters have chosen to vote through mail-in absentee ballots, though overall turnout rates have not noticeably increased. Absentee votes exceeded the number of in-person votes in all elections since the 2014 primary election.
In response to the relative popularity of mail-in voting, the state enacted a bill in 2018 to implement mail-only election pilot programs in some areas. However, in 2019, the state revised its plans and established mail-only elections for the entire state. Beginning with the 2020 primary election, all properly registered voters automatically receive a mail ballot packet approximately eighteen (18) days prior to Election Day. Within ten (10) days of Election Day, voters may return the ballot by mail or by dropping it off at a voter service center or designated place of deposit. All ballots must be received no later than 7:00 p.m. on Election Day. The state bears the cost of postage to return ballots.
College student voting
College students who are Hawaii residents may complete a one-time absentee application if they are living away from their primary residence. Students who come from another state to attend school in Hawaii may register to vote in Hawaii using the normal method.
Election Results since 1996
Hawaii is not a swing state and has voted consistently Democratic in the last six (6) presidential elections.
A person convicted of a felony under state law may not vote while in prison, but their voting rights will be automatically restored upon their release from prison. A person may vote during the period of their probation or parole.
The margin of victory for Democrats has grown consistently since 2004, when the gubernatorial race was very close and the state was decided by 8 points on the presidential level, but its status as a safe democratic state has never been in question. Washington state has voted democrat in 6 of the last 6 elections.
Easier to access absentee ballots because ballots are mailed to everyone. Universal mail-in ballots sent to all voters regardless of whether they request them. In 2005, after a close gubernatorial race in 2004, the state allowed counties to send mail-in ballots to all of its residents. Ultimately, it would take five years to move all of the counties in the state to mail-in ballots (NY Times). No change to identification required for mail-in ballots — no additional ID scan required unless a person is voting for the first time. No additional document submission with submission of a mail-in ballot. However, if you’re voting for the first time, you must include a scan of a photo ID or a utility bill, paycheck, social security number, etc. that indicates your name and address (Vote.org). If you’ve voted before, and you’re sending a mail-in ballot, you do not need to provide additional forms of identification.
No change to college student voting, college students can register to vote without a Washington State ID as long as they have lived in the state for at least 30 days before election day.
Implemented online registration, available until October 26th.
No changes for groups registering voters, voter drives are encouraged as long as they do not refuse to register voters on the basis of party or pay volunteers based on the number of voters they register rather than time spent registering (so harder if only two options) (Washington Guide to Registering Voters).
Voting rights are restored after competion of sentence, parole and probation. Those convicted are not required to completely pay off your fines, restitution, or other legal financial obligations (LFOs) but voting rights can be revoked if the sentencing court determines that you have intentionally failed to pay the LFOs and the court rules to revoke someone’s right to vote (ACLU).
Washington passed a law in 2004 that went into effect in the next two years updating the standards for registering to vote, but merely required voters to provide an address. Since Washington allows all voters to vote by mail, an ID is not required to vote, but is required for those who choose to vote in person. (Ballotpedia).
Washington passed a law that allows 16 and 17 year olds to register by mail to vote.
South Dakota has a long history of voting for Republicans. With the exception of 1896, 1912, 1932, 1936, and 1964, South Dakota has sent its electoral votes to the Republican nominee every year since it was incorporated in 1889. It was covered in part (Shannon and Todd Counties, starting in 1972) by §5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 until the Supreme Court’s ruling that significantly limited the powers of oversight of the federal government on the issue.
Anyone in South Dakota can request an absentee ballot, so they have no distinct “vote by mail” system. The ballots are made available as of 46 days before the election. No-excuse absentee ballots have been available for many years, although the timeline of being offered no earlier nor later than 46 days was only explicitly added to the law in 2011. South Dakota’s early voting is actually in-person absentee voting, where a voter can apply for, receive, and turn in their no-excuse-needed absentee ballot all at once, which, in all but name, is an early voting system. Just as with the absentee ballots (since they are synonymous), early voting begins 46 days before the election. (For help voting absentee in South Dakota, click here.) There was an effort in 2019 to shorten the period to 32 days, although the measure was killed in committee. Additionally, there have been efforts, especially in Native American-majority counties, to dramatically reduce the ability to vote early, but nothing has been enacted at the statewide level.
South Dakota does not offer online voter registration, so the ways to register to vote are limited to mailing a registration form which can be downloaded and printed or going to a government agency. According to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s website, the following locations offer voter registration:
The voter registration deadline is 15 days before the next election. Same day (election day) voter registration is not available. Anyone who is a US citizen, resident of South Dakota (including college students), and is 18 years old or will be by the next election may register. Those formerly incarcerated for a felony are re-enfranchised after completion of prison term, probation, or parole, and all fees and restitutions are paid, although a change in law in 2012 now allows those convicted after July 1, 2012 to vote if the execution of their sentence has been suspended. All who commit felonies before turning 18 will have their voting rights restored after that sentence as well.
A South Dakota driver’s license, nondriver ID, US passports or ID, US Armed Forces ID, high school or university ID, or tribal photo ID will be acceptable identification to vote. These laws were only slightly changed in recent years, adding high school IDs to the acceptable list in 2004, and requiring student IDs to be current in 2006. If a voter cannot provide this identification, they may sign an affidavit confirming their identity in its place. Identification is necessary when voting in person, and when submitting an absentee application a photocopy of acceptable identification must either be physically included or emailed to the County Auditor’s Office. Members of the military and their families and residents living overseas are exempted from the absentee identification requirement. Alternatively, those receiving an absentee ballot may also sign an affidavit in the presence of a notary.
There are few regulations regarding those who register other voters. In 2005, it was enacted that anyone who receives mail registration cards from the county auditor must provide their own contact information to anyone they register and completed registrations must be returned to the county auditor within 10 days or by the voter registration deadline.
Note: the laws have not changed since 2004 unless otherwise stated.
Voting History: Kentucky has voted Republican in every presidential election since 2000.
Same Day Registration:Kentucky does not allow same-day voter registration. The registration deadline is 29 days before the election.
Groups Registering Voters: There are no state-wide rules about voter registration drives, but individual counties may have specific directions for groups registering voters. It is also illegal to pay people based on how many voters the register.
College Student Voting: Students who are from Kentucky but go to school elsewhere can vote absentee in Kentucky. Students who are from another state but go to school in Kentucky can register to vote in Kentucky as long as they’ve been in-state for at least 28 days. Students can register to vote using their campus address, and student IDs are an acceptable form of voter ID.
Pre-Registering High School Students: High school students can register to vote as long as they will be 18 by the next general election. Additionally, students who are 17 can vote in the primaries if they will be 18 by the general election.
Felon Disenfranchisement: The Kentucky state constitution permanently bans felons from voting unless their civil rights are restored through a pardon.
In 2014, the House passed HB70 to amend the constitution to allow felons to restore their voting rights once they’ve completed their sentence, probation, and parole, but this did not pass the Senate.
In November 2015, Governor Steve Beshear signed an executive order to restore voting rights to felons who did not commit violent crimes, treason, or election bribery; who have completed their sentence, probation, and parole; and who don’t have unpaid court fees or pending criminal cases, charges and arrests. However, less than a month later, in December 2015, the new governor, Governor Bevin, signed an executive order ending this practice. In December 2019, Governor Andy Beshear issued another executive order, which was very similar to the first 2015 one. It restores voting rights to felons who did not commit violent crimes, treason, or election bribery; who have completed their sentence, probation, and parole; and who don’t have unpaid court fees. This order applies to felons finishing their sentences going forward as well as those who have already completed their sentences.
In 2020, the Senate passed SB62 to amend the constitution to allow the legislature to restore voting rights to felons who have not committed treason, election bribery, or violent crime and who have no court fees to pay. However, this bill did not pass the House.
Therefore, it currently stands that most ex-felons are able to vote once they have paid off their court fees, but this is allowed by executive order rather than by state law.
Voter ID Laws: Starting in 2020, Kentucky requires photo ID in order to vote, with some exceptions.
Before, 2016, Kentuckians needed to show some form of ID to vote, but it didn’t have to be specifically a photo ID. The state accepted credit cards, social security cards, or DMV-issued licenses. In 2016, the state passed SB169 which expanded the acceptable forms of ID to include any ID card issued by the county and approved by the Board of Elections, any photo ID with a signature, or any US government- or Kentucky-issued ID card.
However, in April 2020, the state passed SB2, which was vetoed by the governor but overridden by the legislature. This bill restricts the acceptable forms of ID to a government-issued photo ID or a university-issued photo ID. The law provides exceptions for people who have an excuse for why they do not have an acceptable photo ID. In that case, they must present an acceptable non-photo ID and sign a written affirmation that they are eligible to vote. The list of excuses and acceptable non-photo IDs can be found here. If a voter can’t meet those requirements, they are still able to cast a provisional ballot to vote for President, Vice President, Senator, and Representative.
Absentee Voting: Kentucky law does not allow for no-excuse absentee voting. A list of the excuses that permit voters to get an absentee ballot can be found here. However, if a voter realizes that they will be in state and able to vote in person after they have received their absentee ballot, they must return the ballot to the county clerk’s office at least seven days before the election and vote in person instead. In August, Governor Beshear issued an executive order allowing voters to site concerns about Covid-19 as an excuse to get an absentee ballot for the 2020 general election only.
Absentee Voter ID: Voters must attach a photocopy of their ID when sending in their absentee ballot application. The specific ID requirements and exceptions are the same as those for in-person voting. See the Voter ID section above for details.
Early Voting: Kentucky law allows for absentee-in person voting starting twelve days before the election only for people who meet the qualifications for an absentee ballot, are in their third trimester of a pregnancy, are having or has a spouse who is having surgery on election day, or won’t be in the county on election day but doesn’t qualify for an absentee ballot (this excuse was added in 2019 when the state passed HB 325). However, in August, Governor Beshear issued an executive order mandating that each county institute no-excuse early voting beginning October 13, 2020.
Note: the laws have not changed since 2004 unless otherwise stated.
Absentee Voting: Alaska has no-excuse absentee voting. Previously, voters were required to have a witness sign their absentee ballot, but this rule has been temporarily suspended for the 2020 general election. Alaska has many options for absentee voting. Individuals can vote by mail, by fax, absentee in person, online, or with a personal representative. Alaskans who return their ballots by fax relinquish their right to a secret ballot. Electronic ballots were first introduced in 2012. Unlike regular absentee voting, voting by personal representative is only available to people unable to vote in person because of their age, an illness, or a disability. While Alaska does provide data on numbers of absentee votes cast each election, the first dataset available is from 2004, which is many years after no-excuse absentee voting was first permitted. Thus, there is no way to compare voter turnout with and without no-excuse absentee ballots in Alaska. Around 100,000 voters vote absentee, early, or with questioned ballots in presidential elections, with that number being slightly lower in non-presidential election years and even lower for primary elections.
Absentee Voter ID: Alaska does not require voter IDs for absentee ballots. However, if a voter registered to vote by mail and did not provide proper identification then, they must include a photocopy of an approved photo ID or non-photo ID with their name and address in their ballot. A list of valid IDs can be found here. When applying for an absentee ballot, Alaska does not require any identification documents unless a voter is applying online, in which case they must have an Alaska driver’s license or a State ID.
Early Voting: Early voting begins fifteen days before election day, but it is only available in some counties and districts. However, anyone can vote absentee in-person, which is available at all polling places. The only difference is that a voter’s eligibility to vote will be reviewed after they cast their ballot if they vote absentee, instead of before they get their ballot if they do early voting.
Voter ID Laws: Alaska requires voters to show ID at the polls, although it does not have to be a photo ID as long as the document has the voter’s name and address. A list of acceptable IDs can be found here. If an election official knows you personally, they may waive the ID requirement unless this is the voter’s first time voting and they registered by mail, fax, or electronic transmission without providing proper identification. If a voter does not have an ID, they are able to vote a questioned ballot, which will be reviewed by an election board to determine whether or not it can be counted.
Felon Disenfranchisement: Felons are disenfranchised until their sentence, probation, and parole has been completed and they are unconditionally discharged.
Online Voter Registration: Alaska has allowed online voter registration since 2015. To register online, a voter must have an Alaska driver’s license or a State ID. Additionally, in 2016, Alaskans approved Ballot Measure 1, which allows for automatic voter registration. Individuals are automatically registered to vote or their registration information is updated when they apply for a Permanent Fund Dividend. Alaskans have 30 days to opt out of this, or they can cancel their registration if they miss the opt-out period.
Same Day Registration: Alaska does not permit same day voter registration. However, if a voter’s name is not on the registration list, they can vote a questioned ballot, which will go to a review board to decide whether or not it can be counted. Additionally, Alaskans can do same day registration to vote for the president and vice president.
Groups Registering Voters: Alaska does not have any particular laws about voter registration drives besides the rule that people can’t be paid based on how many people they register. Additionally, people can complete a training and take an oath to become an official registrar. Then, they will be able to register voters on the spot and are required to submit the completed applications to the elections office within five days of when they are filled out.
College Student Voting: Alaskans who are away at college in another state can still vote in Alaska. Students from another state who go to college in Alaska can vote there if they consider themselves residents of Alaska and have lived there for at least 30 days before the election. Alaska allows college students to register using their campus address, and student IDs are accepted as a voter ID.
Pre-Registering High School Voters: Alaska allows high school students to register to vote beginning ninety days before they turn 18.
Voting History: Alaska has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1968.
Absentee/Mail in Voting is allowed in California and moreover for the first time every citizen was sent a ballot for the 2020 election as a part of a COVID-19 measure. In normal circumstances there are no restrictions to the requesting of a mail in or absentee ballot. There has not been any evidence yet on what the results of having all voters receive a mail-in-ballot will be, i.e. whether it increases or decreases turnout.
California allows for early voting from October 5th to November 2nd or a more standard from 29 days before the election to the election itself. The early voting system was established in 2007 but amendments have been made more recently(2017,2018) in order to make the process more accommodating. Interestingly the legal framework for early voting in California has evolved out of the process for mail in voting but performed and done in a verified location.
In California, Voting rights are restored automatically after prisoners are released and discharge from parole with people on probation also being able to vote. Also others in similar but slightly less extreme law enforcement situations such as being in county jail, on probation, on mandatory supervision, on post-release community supervision, on federal supervised release, or being a person with a juvenile wardship adjudication are also allowed to vote. There was a bill passed in 2016 by Jerry Brown that defined imprisonment to specifically being in a state or federal jail which allowed for many with lower crimes to be allowed to vote. The other conditions of voter rights being restored automatically have been in place at least since 1994.
Despite being a state that swung between the two parties for most of the 20th century, California is now a Democratic powerhouse state that is defeating their opponents by a larger margin each time in statewide elections. Notable though is that this is mainly brought about by a few democratically packed cities the headlines of which are San Francisco and Los Angeles. More rural parts of California tend to vote republican but are being outvoted by these larger cities. Those being outvoted take issue with their situation and there have been movements to try to break off sections of rural California off from the rest of the state.
It’s easy to register to vote in California. As of 2008, Californians with state identification cards can register online (Click here to register). Without a state ID, voters can mail in a physical registration form, which they can pick up at the DMV, county elections or post offices, or libraries. Additionally, all high schools, community colleges, and California State University and University of California schools are provided with voter registration forms annually and can receive more from the Secretary of State free of charge. The voter registration deadline for online registrations and postmarking for mail-in registrations is 15 days before the election, although as of 2012, conditional (same-day) registration became available. Conditional registration allows the voter to register and vote at the same time, and then have their vote counted after their registration confirmed. This was originally mandated to be offered at all permanent elections offices and encouraged to be offered at satellite offices and polling places, although in 2019 it was extended to have its availability required at all of the above locations.
In California, anyone who meets the citizenship and residency requirements can pre-register to vote at age 16, and they will automatically be added to the voter rolls on their 18th birthday. In 2009, 17 year olds received the ability to pre-register, and that was extended to 16 year olds in 2014. College students, regardless of state of origin, are able to vote in California or their home state, if not originally a California resident, and it will be their choice where they want to vote. As mentioned above, all high schools and universities have materials to, and are actively encouraged to, assist their students in pre-registering and registering to vote.
Voter identification will only be necessary when voting for the first time, and only if neither a driver’s license/CA ID number nor the last 4 digits of the individual’s Social Security Number were provided during registration. If identification is necessary, there are no rigid laws about what identification is acceptable, and the code of regulations specifically states that the laws “shall be liberally construed to permit voters and new registrants to cast a regular ballot.” Questions of legitimacy are obligated to be resolved by giving the benefit of the doubt to the voter unless there is serious cause for suspicion. the Secretary of State has outlined the types of identification that may be used, including any form of photo identification with the name matching the registration and documents with the name and address matching the registration.
Those who want to register others can do so relatively easily in California. Any individual who requests 50 or more voter registration cards from the Secretary of State must complete a Statement of Distribution form, and anyone who provides help on any voter registration form, whether part of a voter registration drive or simply one-on-one help, must sign and provide the relevant information at the bottom of the form on which they collaborated. That being said, on a smaller scale, any individual is allowed to help anyone register to vote without being cleared as a way of preventing literacy and language barriers. For those who are hiring people or are hired to help register voters, there are certain confidentiality requirements and a mandate to have the forms mailed within three days of them being filled out (or by the voter registration deadline should it come before the three days are over), among other minimally inconvenient requirements to ensure that as many people are provided with as much access to registration and voter information as possible.
Written By Powell Sheagren and Ell Rose
Wisconsin was not considered a swing state in 2008, but was a blue swing state in 2012 and a red swing state in 2016. Since 1996, the 2016 election was the first time that Wisconsin cast its electoral votes to the candidate from the Republican Party.
Wisconsin offers absentee ballot access to any registered voter without conditions. Further, Wisconsin allows seniors and the infirm to request that their ballots be mailed to them for all future elections. Wisconsin requires that voters submit valid photo ID with their absentee ballot request, with the exception of those who qualify for the automatic mailing of ballot. Wisconsin began requiring Photo ID to vote and request an absentee ballot in 2011.
Wisconsin offers both online voter registration and same-day registration. Wisconsin only offers early voting in the form of in-person absentee voting, and this could begin on October 20th. The state leaves the finalization of dates and hours to the individual municipalities. Wisconsin allows first-time voters to register as early as age 17 as long as they will be 18 by the next election. Wisconsin requires college students to have established residency in the state for at least 28 days consecutively in order to be eligible to vote in the state. The 28 consecutive days rule was implemented in 2011, expanded from 10 days.
Wisconsin disenfranchises felons throughout the duration of their sentence, including prison, parole, and probation. Wisconsin does not specifically state that felons must pay restitution before the right to vote is returned, just that felons must complete all terms of their sentence.
Wisconsin allows voter registration drives. The state provides very few guidelines governing groups registering voters, just that groups must return registration application by the 3rd Wednesday prior to Election Day. There don’t seem to be any recent changes made to these requirements.
Wisconsin was not at all covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Swing State: Not Applicable
Same Day Registration: The State of Alabama does not have same day voter registration.
Absentee Ballot Access: The State of Alabama, has seven different qualifications for an Absentee Ballot, however, due to Covid-19, Absentee/Mail-in Ballot access has been expanded to all eligible voters.
Access to Mail-In Voting: All eligible voters are allowed to request an absentee/mail-in ballot during the 2020 election due to Covid-19, however, the Mail-in ballot is no different in Alabama from the Absentee Ballot mentioned previously.
Changes to Absentee Voter ID and Mail-In Voter ID: In 2011, the State of Alabama made it a universal requirement that everyone and anyone registering to vote must have an acceptable Photo ID at the Polls, likewise, they must send a copy of it with their absentee ballot.
Voters that are at least 65 or who have underlying medical conditions that make them more susceptible to complications from Covid-19 must be exempted from the state’s identification and witness-signature requirements for absentee ballots during pandemic to comply with the Voting Rights Act.
College Student Voting: No change in access for college students, can register at home, or with a college address.
Early Voting: There is no early voting period in the State of Alabama
Mail-In Ballots Authorized for the First Time in 2020: Not applicable
Existing Absentee Voter ID and Mail-In Voter ID Documentation: The State of Alabama has a number of eligible photo identification/documentation available to a voter. Some, but not limited to, are A Valid Alabama Driver’s License, Valid Military ID, Valid Pistol Permit, Alabama Photo Voter ID, and a Valid US Passport. The rest can be found here.
Requires Felons to Pay: Alabama does not require that felons pay, however, if convicted of a felony that is a crime of Moral Turpitude (46 crimes, 15 of which get you permanently banned unless pardoned), you must petition the State Board of Pardon and Paroles following completion of your sentence and parole/probation. If convicted of a crime in the past, before the 2011 Definition of Moral Turpitude Act bill, you do not need to apply to restore your voting rights, but you must re-register.
Rules Governing Groups Registering Voters: I have not found anything indicating that any such rules have been created that have either helped to increase or decrease group voter registration drives.
States Covered By Section 5 of Voting Act of 2013: Covered in Voting Rights Act of 2013: The entirety of the State of Alabama was covered under the Shelby County portion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, following the decision in 2013, it was no longer covered by Section 5 of the prior Act.
Supported One Party Since 1996: Has voted red in all of the elections since 1996
State that voted for Obama then voted for Trump: Does not fit the description.
Pre-Register High Schoolers: Alabama has allowed the pre-registration of high schoolers for some time, the numbers have not increased or decreased. It is important to note though that they allow the students to pre-register, they do not automatically do it. Must be 18 by the time of the next election.
Voter ID Laws: Beginning with the June 3, 2014 primary election, Act 2011-673 requires an Alabama voter to have a specific type of photo identification at the polls in order to vote. If a voter does not have one of the approved forms of photo ID as stated in the law, then he or she may receive a free Alabama photo voter ID from various locations including the Secretary of State’s Office, local county board of registrars’ offices, and a mobile location to be determined by the Secretary of State’s Office (Alabama Secretary of State).
Co-authors: Yosue Gonzalez & Justin Tucker
Tennessee does not have no-excuse absentee ballots. Voters are eligible to vote absentee (“by-mail”) if they fit into one of the categories listed here. One of the categories for this year is for people with underlying medical conditions who do not want to risk getting covid (reason for why rate it “easier to cast” absentee ballots this year). To request an absentee ballot, voters must provide their social security number and their home Tennessee residence address.
Early voting: Tennessee voters have the option to vote early and in-person starting 20 days before the election. This is done at either the county election commission office or at a satellite voting location. Unlike absentee (aka “by-mail”) voting, early voters do not need a reason as to why they are voting early, it can just be for convenience. Early voting ends 5 days before the election.
Results from last 6 presidential elections: 1996 was the only year out of the past 6 presidential elections in which the Democratic nominee won Tennessee. During that year, Bill Clinton beat republican nominee Bob Dole by just under 3 percentage points (popular vote). Tennessee has voted republican in every presidential election since 1996.
Online Voter Registration: To register to vote online in Tennessee, a voter must have a valid Tennessee driver’s license or Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security ID. If a voter does not have one of these forms of ID, they must register to vote by mail. The deadline to register online for the 2020 election was October 5th.
Tennessee does not offer same-day registration.
A GOP backed 2019 bill made it so that groups registering voters could get fined if they submitted too many incomplete registration forms. This law’s implementation was later blocked by a federal judge, and the law was overturned by new legislation.
College Students are allowed to use their college campus address to register to vote and will need both a current photo ID and a proof of residency document. Voters who will be 18 by the date of the next election are allowed to preregister to vote.
Tennessee requires that voters have a photo ID, which includes a Tennessee driver license with your photo, United States Passport, photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security or by the federal or Tennessee state government, a United States Military photo ID, or a Tennessee handgun carry permit with your photo. Student IDs are not a suitable alternative. Expired Photo ID’s are accepted as long as they were issued by the federal or Tennessee state government. If you do not have an acceptable photo ID at the polls you must vote via provisional ballot and have two days after election day to bring a suitable ID to the election commission office and then sign an affidavit. Free Photo IDs can be acquired at the Department of Safety and Homeland Security at any participating driver service center across the state.
The Tennessee constitution provides that all people convicted of felonies are denied the right to vote. Felons may regain their eligibility to vote if their convictions are expunged or if they apply to have their voting rights restored. You are never eligible to vote if you have committed the following crimes and were convicted after July 1st, 2006 of “Voter fraud, treason, any degree of murder or rape,certain felonies involving bribery, misconduct involving public officials and employees, or interference with government operations, sexual offenses or violent sexual offenses that are felonies where the victim was a minor.” If you have been convicted of a felony that is not on the aforementioned list, you may apply for your suffrage to be regained via a restoration of voting rights form.
Tennessee requires that any outstanding fees or restitution be paid before applying for voting right restoration. Felons may also have to pay individual fees for each conviction. Tennessee is also the only state that required felons be up to date on child support payments in order to be eligible for restoration.
Absentee ballot voting: Prior to 2020, South Carolina voters who wanted to vote absentee (by mail) needed to have an accepted excuse. This year, all voters are considered qualified to vote absentee with the reason being “State of Emergency” due to the Covid pandemic. Voters will indicate this on their absentee request form that can be filled out online.
On October 5th, 2020, the supreme court reinstated a South Carolina law that requires a witness signature on absentee ballots. Lower courts in the state attempted to get rid of this requirement because they believed it “interfered with the right to vote during a pandemic” (Liptak 2020).
Early voting: South Carolina does have in person early voting under the technical name “absentee in-person”. Voters can choose to vote this way starting on October 5th and then can continue until the day before the election. Voters must provide an accepted form of ID to do this (see accepted forms here). There is no same day registration on election day and the deadline for registering to vote is 30 days before the election.
Online voter registration: South Carolina does offer online registration as long as you have a valid SC driver’s license or state ID number.
Photo ID requirement: 2016 marked the first presidential election in South Carolina where voters were required to present a valid form of ID. The law was passed in 2011, but was put on hold by a federal court until after the 2012 election.
Felony disenfranchisement: convicted felons are ineligible to vote while incarcerated, on parole, or on probation. After their sentence is completed, these people must submit a new registration application to their local county board of registration and elections. Those with misdemeanors involving violations of election law are also barred from voting until their sentence is completed.
North Carolina has no-excuse absentee ballots. Any registered voter can apply for an absentee ballot to be mailed to their residence.
New for 2020: NC now only requires one witness signature for this year’s election because of covid, a reduction from the previous requirement of two. Legislators understand that there will be more people voting by mail (absentee) this year so they want to make it easier. Also new for 2020, absentee ballots will be accepted and counted up to 9 days after the election, as long as they were postmarked by election day. This is an extension of the previous 3 day limit that was in place. The republican party attempted to block this change to 9 days from happening, but that attempt was denied by a federal appeals court on October 20th.
Early Voting: The 2020 early voting period starts Thursday, October 15, and ends Saturday, October 31. Voters can cast their ballot at any designated voting place, which is different than on election day when they have to go to their assigned polling location for their registered district. People can also register and vote at the same time during early voting. Those who are voting absentee (by mail) can also drop their ballot off at an early voting location.
Felony Disenfranchisement: In September 2020, a North Carolina court ruled the “state may not disenfranchise citizens who owe fines, fees, and other debts from a felony conviction” (Stern 2020). This gives voting rights back to as many as 100,000 ex-felons for the 2020 election.
Voter Pre-Registration: North Carolina allows 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote, meaning that they register but the application officially gets processed once they turn 18 years old. NC had a unique law until 2013 that mandated high schools hold a voter registration drive on campus every year. This is no longer in practice, but 16 and 17 year olds are still eligible to pre-register.
Swing State: NC has been considered a swing state for presidential elections ever since the 2008 election. 2008 was the only year in the past 6 presidential elections where the Democratic candidate won the state. That year, the democratic nominee Barack Obama won the state by just .3 percentage points. North Carolina was one of just 2 states (along with Indiana) that voted for Obama in 2008 and his competitor, Mitt Romney, in 2012.
College student voting: College students in North Carolina can either register at their college address or home address.
Although felons cannot vote while in prison, Louisiana automatically restores the right to vote to felons after their release from prison and to those on parole granted they have not been imprisoned during the last five years. Louisiana does not require convicted felons to pay all restitutions and fees before regaining their right to vote.
Those who will be outside the parish where they are registered, those 65 and older, and those that will be incarcerated for a non-felony are eligible to vote absentee in Louisiana. Also, COVID-19 is a new criteria for absentee eligibility, if a voter is quarantined or at an increased risk of infection. This represents an expansion of absentee voting. Louisiana does not use mail-in voting. Voters must list one of the aforementioned reasons to have an absentee ballot mailed to them.
Louisiana does have an online voter registration service, but the state does not allow same-day registration. Louisiana permits early voting, and has extended the hours and dates of early voting this election cycle.
Louisiana requires voter ID in person as well as with the application for an absentee ballot.
At the time of Shelby County v. Holder, Louisiana was covered in whole by the Voting Rights Act
Louisiana sent its electoral votes to the Democratic candidate in the 1996 presidential election, but it has sent its votes to the Republican candidate every election since. Louisiana is not considered a swing state.
Louisiana allows eligible voters to volunteer in an official capacity as “deputy registrars.” Though changes do not appear to have been made since 2006, Louisiana requires an application to become a deputy registrar. Also, there are many rules governing the work of deputy registrar’s and defined penalties for breaking such rules, such as failing to submit a completed registration application to the registrar’s office within 30 days of receipt of the application.
In 2014, HB 501 allowed pre-registration of voters as young as 16 if registered at the DMV, or age 17 if registered through the registrar’s office. Students attending college in the state of Louisiana are eligible to vote in-state in-person or via absentee ballot. As voting in-person requires a Louisiana ID, out-of-state students may have to vote absentee if they do not possess adequate identification. A copy of their student fees bill or their student ID in addition to the other required information is sufficient proof of attendance of college in Louisiana for the application for an absentee ballot.
With Yousef Khan.
Delaware has voted for the candidate of the Democratic Party in each presidential election since 1992. Delaware is not considered a swing state.
A picture ID is not required for voting in Delaware, but providing one makes the check in process much easier (otherwise, there is a form to complete affirming your identity). Acceptable IDs for check-in include a driver’s license, a passport, a state ID, a polling place or social security card, a signed vehicle registration or credit card, or another official document identifying the voter’s name and signature.
In July 2020, Governor John Carney signed into law mail-in voting as an alternative to in-person voting as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Absentee ballots with cause were previously allowed in Delaware. An ID is not required to vote by mail in Delaware. Voters registered in Delaware can vote on election day and can look up where to vote on Delaware’s site.
In 2019, the Delaware State Legislature passed a bill (House Bill 38) permitting Delaware voters to cast their ballots at polling places up to 10 days before Election Day and the law will go into effect on January 1, 2022.
Delaware does not offer early voting, or election day registration. In 2013, a bill that would have allowed same-day voter registration made it through the Delaware House of Representatives but failed before it reached the Senate. Governor Carney has continued to advocate for same-day registration as well as early voting in order to increase participation as part of his “Common Sense Voter Reforms” policy. Delaware has enacted early voting but it will not be in place until 2022.
Delaware restrict voter registration groups by imposing a variety of registration and reporting requirements on volunteers or employees. Delaware uses the “temporary registrars” system under which voter registration drives distributing and collecting state registration forms must first register with the State Commissioner of Elections and complete a training program.
In 2010, Delaware passed a law giving 16 and 17 year-olds the right to register to vote when they get their driver’s license. At 17, a registered voter may participate in the election primaries.
Convicted Felons in Delaware may vote as soon as they have completed their prison sentence, unless they were charged with murder, manslaughter, election fraud, or a sexual crime (in which case they will not get their right to vote back).
Out of state college students may vote in Delaware only “if the applicant’s present intent is [to] make Delaware their permanent home or their home for the indefinite future.” They must prove this intent by acquiring documentation such as a driver’s license or bank account statement with their current school address.
Maryland has been won by the Democratic presidential candidate in every election since 1992. Maryland is not considered a swing state.
Maryland has offered online voter registration since 2005 (though administration of the site used has changed hands) as proscribed by the Help America Vote Act of 2002. If a Marylander does not have a license number to register with, they may use their social security number or another valid document. Unlike in some states, there is no requirement that an ID be presented to vote. A picture ID is strongly encouraged, but other documentation is also allowed including paychecks, bank statements, or other documents giving name and address and dated within 3 months of the election. If a potential voter lacks suitable documentation they may vote with a provisional ballot and provide documentation at a later date before votes are counted.
Marylanders may register to vote at age 16, though they cannot actually cast a ballot until 18. There is an exception to this rule: if an election will take place after the voter turns 18, they may participate in the party primary before that election even if they have not yet turned 18. As of 2018, there is an Automatic Voter Registration system in Maryland that registers voters when they receive driver’s licenses or other forms of ID unless they opt out. The AVR takes effect at age 16, though the voter cannot vote yet at that point.
Early voting is permitted in Maryland. For the 2020 election cycle, early voting begins on October 26 and continues until November 2. Weekend voting is allowed during that period.
Marylanders may request an absentee ballot with no excuse, and the state will send a ballot request form to all voters who have not already done so. An ID is not required for this, and no-excuse absentee ballots remove the need for mail-in voting policy. Maryland is encouraging all voter to vote remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in-person polling places will also be open on election day and for early voting. In August of 2020, Maryland extended the date to apply for a mail-in ballot to October 20 and offered 2 days paid leave to government employees who volunteer to serve as poll workers.
Beginning in 2016, Maryland has allowed all convicted felons to vote after their release from prison. Before this new policy took effect, felons could not vote until after fulfilling their probation or parole requirements. The new law passed over a veto from Governor Larry Hogan.
In 2018, Maryland amended its constitution to enable election day voter registration. Marylanders voting early had been able to register when they voted since 2013, but the 2018 amendment extended this to the day of the actual general election.
Maryland allows those 18 years of age or older to serve as Voter Registration Distributors and receive state training. VRDs can distribute registration forms and help to fill them out, but may not receive per capita compensation for getting potential voters to register. Voter Registration Drives in Maryland do not need to be registered with the state. Registration groups may collect completed registration forms in order to give them over to the state, but the forms may not be copied (prefilling certain parts of the form is allowed).
Oklahoma is a solidly red state and has voted republican in 6 out of 6 of the last elections.
Since 2004, voter ID laws have tightened as they are the same as the requirements for in-person voting.
Ballots can be mailed in. There has been no change in absentee/mail-in ballot authorization since 2004. Anyone can request an absentee ballot (but they must do for every election) without giving a reason; however, voters may cite being physically incapcitated as a reason to make absentee voting even easier (OK Gov). Absentee ballots have never required a a reason to request them. Due to COVID-19, a new Senate Bill 210 asserts that physical incapacitation — as a reason for requesting an absentee ballot — may apply to those who are at high risk, quarantining etc. and these ballots must be verified by 2 witnesses. Absentee ballots traditionally require notarization but there is now an alternative due to COVID-19. Those who request a standard absentee ballot for this upcoming election, must have their ballot notarized (notarization for ballots is free) or provide a scan of a valid ID — a state ID, Native American nation ID, voter identification card (voters get this for free when registered), etc. (OK Gov).
No change in whether college students can vote. They can vote at either their home address or their college address.
No change for organizations registering voters. In order to conduct a voter registration drive, you must apply with the OK State elections board.
Individuals who have been incarcerated have their right to vote restored after serving their sentence, probation and parole (ACLU).
Voter ID laws have tightened since 2004. In 2010, voters supported a law known as State Question 746, by nearly 75% of the vote, that would require some form of unexpired, photo federal or state ID at polls. If a voter does not have these forms of IDs, they could instead present a free voter identification card issued by the County Election Board when an individual registered to vote in the state (AP). The former Democratic Governor, Brad Henry, had attempted to veto a similar bill, passed by Republican legislature, but the question was sent to voters to decide on the ballot because of the majority Republican legislature. One Republican state senator described it as a ‘pre-emptive’ measure to reduce the likelihood of voter fraud (Oklahoman). In 2018, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the law was constitutional after one woman had filed a lawsuit six years earlier, claiming that it created ‘new barriers’ for voters. The ruling iterated that the law was adopted to prevent future election fraud (AP).
You may pre-register to vote at 17 ½ as long as you are 18 before election day (USA Gov).
Missouri was considered a swing state in the 2008 election when McCain won by a slim margin but since then, it has become solidly Republican in 2012 and 2016. In 5 out of the last 6 elections, Missouri has voted for a Republican presidential candidate.
There has been no change in accessing an absentee ballot, you still need a reason from a list of reasons such as absence from the jurisdiction, illness, etc. There are 7 official reasons for requesting an absentee ballot.
No change to absentee or mail-in voter IDs — after many attempts to tighten laws between 2006 and 2016, a non-photo ID is required at polls now. No extra documentation required for either absentee or mail-in voting. The forms of ID acceptable for in-person voting are also acceptable for absentee and mail-in voting.
No change since 2004 — students attending college in Missouri may register to vote there or in their home state. Missouri is also one of three states that allows people to register to vote if they are 17 ½ years old and 18 before the next election.
No change since 2004 in early voting — Missouri has never offered early voting. Missouri currently offers online voter registration. Same day registration is not allowed. This year the date by which voters had to register was October 7.
Any individual or a group must be registered with the Secretary of State as a Voter Registration Solicitor in order to hold a voter registration drive.
If someone is convicted of any felony, they may not vote while incarcerated, on probation or on parole. However, if an individual is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor related to elections laws, they are permanently disenfranchised unless they receive a pardon from the Governor (ACLU).
Starting on Jun 4, 2020, Governor Mike Parson signed Senate Bill 631, which authorizes bail in ballots for August 4 primaries and the November 3 general election to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The provisions in this bill expire at the end of 2020 (MO How to Vote). Senate Bill 631 allows any registered voter to cast a mail-in or absentee ballot in any 2020 election but is subject to a notarization requirement where the ballot is signed and sworn before a notary (no fee may be charged for notarizing a ballot). Individuals who have contracted COVID-19, and those who are at higher risk for contracting the virus, are exempted from the notarization requirement.
Voter ID laws have stayed the same since 2004 but there have multiple attempts to create stricter laws. In 2006, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down a law that would have required voters to show a Missouri-issued photo ID at polls because it would require voters to pay to obtain the ID, making it more difficult for low-income, disabled and elderly to vote (NY Times, Weinschenk v. State). Five years later, Republican lawmakers would again attempt to pass a similar amendment that would require a photo ID but would grant certain exemptions and would have the state cover the cost of obtaining such ID. Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, however, vetoed the bill, writing that “disenfranchising certain classes of persons [such as senior citizens and people with disabilities] is not acceptable,” (St. Louis Dispatch).
In 2016, the Republican-led state legislature established Voter ID laws that would allow people to vote with a voter ID, to vote with a non-photo ID that would require signing an affidavit under the penalty of perjury or to cast a provisional ballot. This measure was approved by 63% of Missouri voters (Kansas City Star). The affidavit was confusing and contradictory — it would require those without a state or federal ID to provide another form of documentation that established residence and then require voters to sign an affidavit that claimed that the voter did not have the proper identification to vote, even though those lesser forms of identification were just used to vote (Slate). In January 2020, the Missouri Supreme Court, in a 5-2 ruling, struck down the voting option that would require voters to sign the affidavit, thereby allowing people to vote with non-photo identification such as student IDs, utility bills, etc. As Judge Mary Russell wrote in the majority opinion, “although the State has an interest in combating voter fraud, requiring individuals voting under option two to sign a contradictory, misleading affidavit is not a reasonable means to accomplish that goal,” (Kansas City Star).
As of now, Missouri voters may use a state ID, federal ID, student ID from a university or college, or a utility bill, bank statement, etc. that indicates the name and residence of a voter (ShowIt2Vote). If a voter cannot provide a valid form of ID, they may cast a provisional ballot, a ballot provided to voters if there is uncertainty about their eligibility (first established by HAVA), in the interim but that ballot will only be counted if it is later validated.
Nebraska is about as solidly Republican-leaning as a state can get: the state has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. This statement, however, comes with a caveat: Nebraska, along with Maine, provides two electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote in the state, and one to the winner of the popular vote in each congressional district, and the single break from Nebraska’s trend of solid red was in 2008 when one of its congressional districts voted for Barack Obama. The consistency in Nebraska’s party alignment is paralleled by the general consistency in their election laws– very few substantial changes have been made to the law-books since 2004. Nebraska was never covered by §5 of the Voting Rights Act, in whole or in part, so the weakening of §5 in 2013 did not cause the influx of election law changes seen in some affected states.
In Nebraska, there are three main ways to vote: in person on election day, by no-excuse-needed absentee ballot, and in person within 30 days of a primary or general election, 15 days for all others. This early voting period was shortened from 35 days in 2013 due to concerns about equity and accessibility in the first few days for people with disabilities. While Nebraska does not offer traditional voting by mail, anyone can apply for an absentee ballot, making it functionally synonymous with a mail-in ballot. While nothing in the law made it easier to vote absentee during the 2020 election, they did send every registered voter an early ballot (a term synonymous with absentee in Nebraska) application which offered them the choice to send away for one or not. It made the process slightly more convenient and perhaps raised awareness about the existence of no-excuse absentee voting.
Nebraska does not send an absentee ballot to every voter statewide, however counties with fewer than 10,000 residents may choose to conduct all-mail elections, in which case all voters will receive mail ballots. In those counties, the average voter turnout is 60%, much higher than the statewide average of 40%. For Nebraska mail voting FAQ, click here.
The same forms of ID are accepted now as prior to 2004. In order to register to vote online (click here to register), a feature made available in 2014, the voter must have a Nebraska Driver’s License or other state ID card, and since the state has already verified the voter’s personal information, the voter will not be required to show their identification at the polling place. If the voter registers online and provides the last 4 digits of their Social Security Number or in person and shows proper identification at that time, that will also suffice. If not provided during registration, either in person, online, or by mail, and if the voter has never voted before, the voter will be required to show valid identification at the polls or submit a copy with their mailed-in voter registration or absentee application. If not voting for the first time, identification is not necessary.
Acceptable forms of ID include:
In any case where valid ID cannot be presented and it is required, the voter has the right to submit a provisional ballot.
Registering to vote in Nebraska is relatively easy. Anyone who will be 18 by the next November election is eligible to register. As mentioned above, there are online, in person, and mail-in options for voter registration. If opting to register in person, voters can go to the Department of Motor Vehicles or they can register at Health and Human Services or Department of Education buildings when applying for other programs. Nebraska does not offer same-day registration, and their deadline to register to vote is postmarking by the third Friday before the next election by mail, or the second Friday before the next election in person. College students who temporarily move out of Nebraska to attend school may continue to vote in their previous county, and those who come to Nebraska from out of state may vote if it is a place in which the student “intend[s] to establish a home and be habitually present[,]” according to the Nebraska Secretary of State’s website.
Those formerly incarcerated for a felony, as of 2005, are no longer permanently disenfranchised in Nebraska. Two years after completion of sentence, which includes any jail time, probation, or parole, voting rights are restored.
In order to register others to vote, one must become a deputy registrar. They are obligated to do a training session (due to the pandemic, none are currently available) and must work in at least groups of two individuals, if not more, and not all members of the group can have the same party affiliation. The group is obligated to provide the registrar with the registrations by the end of the following business day.
North Dakota has voted for the Republican presidential candidate in every election since 1968. North Dakota is not considered a swing state.
Early voting is allowed in North Dakota. For the 2020 election cycle, early voting begins on October 19 and runs until November 2. Voting is not allowed over weekends in that span. In addition, individual counties may have different dates for early voting. North Dakota allows voters to request an absentee ballot without providing an excuse, so there are no mail-in ballots used in the state. The absentee ballot must be postmarked at least one day before election day to be counted. North Dakotans who choose to vote by absentee ballot can track their ballot on North Dakota’s website.
Convicted felons in North Dakota are not able to vote while serving their prison terms, but immediately regain the right to vote and run for public office upon their release. Unlike in some other states, felons in North Dakota are not required to pay court fees or any other fines before voting, after their release.
North Dakota implemented a voter ID law in 2013. In both 2015 and 2017, the list of acceptable types of ID was narrowed. For the 2020 election cycle, usable types of ID include a Driver’s License, Non-Driver’s ID, Tribal ID, or Certificate of Long Term Care. The ID must include the voter’s name, residential address, and date of birth. North Dakotans who lack a valid ID while voting can still cast a ballot. They are issued a provisional ballot, which will not be counted in the election unless they are able to later provide an ID. The decision to include Tribal IDs as acceptable for voting came in 2020 after Brakebill v. Jaeger, which found that many Native Americans lacked the other forms of ID acceptable.
In 2018, North Dakota added Article XIV to the state constitution. This article was designed to combat the use of large, “dark money” donations, or donations made without requiring disclosure. The law requires “prompt, electronically accessible, plainly comprehensible, public disclosure of the ultimate and true source of funds” that are available to in-state election bids.
In March of 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, North Dakota governor Doug Burgum issued executive order 2020-13, which enabled counties to close their physical polling places and conduct the election entirely through mail. All voters in North Dakota are to be mailed a ballot, and the restriction that all mail-in ballots must be processed only during the day of the election and the day before has been removed. Ballots may be processed during the five days after the election.
North Dakota is the only state which does not require voters to register prior to the election. This has been the case since 1951, though there have been efforts to repeal it, one of which was vetoed in 1976. This occurred due to the overwhelming power of the Republican party in the state, which made the primary for the party the more important election and rendered the national election nearly moot. Though there is no registration at the state level, individual cities may still require registration for elections.
North Dakota has a residency requirement of 30 days in a precinct before casting a ballot. College students may choose to vote in North Dakota or their home states because the state does not require registration. However, an ID is still required so only college students with a North Dakota ID are eligible to vote.
In 2020, during General Assembly, the government of Virginia decided to put into effect several new mail-in ballot/ absentee ballot laws. Most importantly, the ability for anyone to request a mail-in ballot without any necessary excuses. However, voters are still required to pay for their own mailing fees, such as stamps. The bill passed also extends the deadline for mail-in ballots and request of mail-in ballots. Virginia has set forth new bills in order to properly respond to community needs during a pandemic. Before, you’d required to provide information in regards to a disability with a doctor’s confirmation in order to receive the option of an absentee ballot. Additionally, the bill requires first-time voters in a specific jurisdiction to vote in person with certain person-by-person exceptions.
Registration laws in Virginia are less restrictive today. Without the ability to register online, voters are left to registering in person, mailing their registration to the elections office, or may register online. The people allowed to register should meet all regular requirements such as citizenship and residency but are allowed to preregister at 17 years old before the major general election. Virginia governor has also begun a race for high schools to register eligible students as young as seventeen years old. For their restrictive registration policies, Virginia continues to not allow same-day registration. In fact, the registration deadline is 22 days before the General election.
College students in Virginia can now register with their dorm location as their residential address without being disqualified. However, for the majority of the registration process, it remains the same as everyone else. There have been numerous efforts to register students across numerous college campuses in Virginia, which has been facilitated in previous years.
During elections, voters are required to provide acceptable forms of identification that do not need to include a photo in order to cast a ballot. In addition, voters are allowed to cast a provisional ballot or sign a voter ID Confirmation Statement. The current governor has proven to change voter ID laws in favor of the voters, easing the ways they are able to cast a ballot.
In 2020, the governor has made numerous strides to make voting accessible to all people, adding early voting as one of the most notable changes to their voting laws. Virginia experienced a surge of voters in the early voting locations in this early election cycle.
Virginia is covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, restricting Virginia form enacting new voting laws without other necessary forms of action.
Instated in 2013, groups seeking to register more than 20 voters, are mandated to become fully trained in the election process. This serves to further inform groups in regards to registration, ensuring mass numbers of peoples are able to properly become voters.
A largely Republican state in the past, the new governing body has made notable changes amid the pandemic, impacting the ability for voters to access polling sites ahead of the election. In the upcoming general election, Virginia is not noted as a swing state. In the 2008 election, we saw a flip in Virginia from majorly Republican to Democratic. During the 2008 election, Virginia became a swing state and in the preceding election years (2012 and 2016), it was treated as such as well.
Virginia is one of the only states that have strict felony voter disenfranchisement after a sentence ends. In Virginia, felons are not allowed to vote after convicted. Although there have policy changes in regards to voting rights restoration throughout the years. It has been most notably, the restoration of over 10,000 Virginians’ right to vote in 2016 by the governor that has brought attention to executive action, which is the only method for felons to regain their civil rights after serving their full sentence.
Vote by Mail/Absentee ballots
Idaho does not require voters to list an excuse when voting absentee. No changes were made as a result of COVID-19 to absentee ballot rules. Idaho has offered no-excuse absentee voting since at least 1972. A 2016 law changed the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot from 6 days to 11 days before the election.
2020 did produce Idaho’s first-ever all mail primary election. The state subsequently passed a law ensuring voters can vote in person in the 2020 general election if they prefer. SB 1001, also enacted in 2020, allows returned absentee ballots to be opened and processed by clerks 7 days before election day (though no votes may be tabulated).
Idaho implemented a photo ID law in 2010. Under the law, voters must present one of the following forms of ID. If a voter does not bring an acceptable form of ID to the polls, they may still vote after signing a ‘personal identification affidavit’:
With a 2017 law, Idaho added to the list of acceptable forms of ID that can be used to vote by adding a concealed carry license.
Unless voting for the first time, Idaho does not require voters to show ID to vote by mail.
College Student Voting
Despite a carefully-worded government webpage that appears to discourage the registration of college students in Idaho, the state is not unfriendly to college student voting. Idaho photo ID laws allow for student photo ID from in-state high schools or colleges. Additionally, same-day registration, no-excuse absentee ballots that don’t require ID, and the option to sign an affidavit in place of ID all make college student voting easier.
A 2013 law gave counties the option to allow ‘early voting’ as an alternative to ‘in-person absentee voting’. Under state law, early voting must begin at least 15 days before election day and ends on the Friday before the election. Counties may elect to begin early voting more than 15 days in advance of the election.
Online Voter registration
Idaho allowed online voter registration for the first time in 2017. The legislation approved the switch to online voting in 2016 with close to unanimous votes. The move was also supposed to help with clerk efficiency and accuracy as before this system clerks had to enter in ballot applications by hand.
While voters can register online, the system closes early, this year on Oct 8th. After that, a voter has to go in person to the county clerk’s office or to the polls to register.
Rules Governing Groups Registering Voters
Idaho does not currently have laws regulating who can register voters or how to conduct voter registration drives, beyond the typical deadlines and requirements for voter registration.
Idaho allows same-day registrations and has since 1994. Voters are required to show some proof of residency, either an ID, check, or bill and take an oath that they are who they say they are. In 2016 an estimated 13% of voters registered on election day.
Idaho currently automatically restores rights to felons have they have completed their sentence, parole, and probation. Idaho has not reformed its felony disenfranchisement laws since 1997. As of 2016, 1.9% of the voting population was disenfranchised by this law.
Swing State (2012, 2016, 2020)
Idaho is not considered to be a swing state. In most polls, Trump currently leads by double digits.
Voted D or R 4/5/6 of the last 6 Presidential Elections
Idaho has voted Republican six times out of the last six elections. It is considered to be very solidly Republican and consistently elections Republican governors, senators, and representatives as well.
Pre-registration of High Schoolers
Idaho allows anyone who will be eighteen by the time of the election they wish to vote in to pre-register. Since 2015, all public high school students are required to take a civics test to graduate. That test included material about who is eligible to vote and how to register
Work by Gabriela Hernandez and Carissa Kilbury
With an increasing amount of voter turnout during early voting from its implementation in 2016 to 2020, Florida proves that the implementation of early voting sites only serves to promote citizens’ ability to cast a ballot. Early voting sites in Florida open as early as the 15th day before the election and can be OPEN until the 2nd day of election day, according to the discretion of the Supervisor of Elections. The mandatory period of early voting period is from October 29th to November 5th, but most early voting sites have implemented early voting as soon as October 22nd. These open period have remained consistent since its inception.
The ability to register to vote through 3rd party groups has been ratified after 2013 that changed that statute allowing third party registration. However, these laws have made it more difficult or register new voters through third party groups in comparison to the previous laws allowing mass voter registration drives.
Most significantly, Florida ensured higher participation of voter registration rate allowing preregistration. To preregister, you must be at least 16 years old. Through numerous programs held by the Department of Elections, Florida high schools help register anyone who is 16 or older to vote. The implementation of preregistration at young ages helps ensure voter engagement at a young age.
The state of Florida has had a long history of changing voter identification laws becoming stricter throughout the years. Stemming since 2005, the acceptable forms of voter identification have decreased except for a new submission license to carry a concealed weapon, veteran health identification, and employee identification as forms of voter identification in 2016. The forms of identification do not have to show a signature, but it must display a name and photograph. However, you must show additional identification providing a signature. These forms of identification are necessary when voting in person, but if you are not able to, then you are allowed the use of a provisional ballot. Through vote by mail, the only required form of identification is your signature, which must match what is already on record.
Florida has been considered a swing state for numerous elections. In 1996, 2004, 2008, and 2012, Floridians voted Democratic. In 2000, Florida’s popular vote was so close that ultimately only 537 votes separated the two candidates; when the Supreme Court (Bush v. Gore) stopped the vote recount that was going on in some counties, Bush was declared the winner of Florida’s electoral votes and thus of the general election. In 2016, Floridians voted Republican once again. With 29 electoral votes, Florida plays a considerable part in the race for President. With its geographic differences in voting, it’s crucial to look at Florida up close during elections.
Mail In Ballot:
Florida has “No Excuse Mail Ballot Voting” – voters do not need to cite a specific, eligible reason to be able to vote by mail.
Florida offers online voter registration, as well as a form that can be mailed in. Florida does not allow same-day registration. The deadline to register is 29 days before the election. College students may choose to register at their permanent home address or at their college address.
Felons who have been convicted of murder or a sexual offense are not allowed to vote in Florida unless granted clemency by the State Clemency Board. For other felony convictions, the right to vote is not restored until all terms of the sentence have been completed, which includes jail time, parole and probation, and paying all fines ordered as part of the sentence. This rule is referred to as Constitutional Amendment 4. Over 1.4 million individuals in Florida are impacted by Amendment 4, and there is no clear system in Florida for felons to determine how much they owe the state, if any, and how to pay it.
Mail In Ballot:
Minnesota has “No Excuse Mail Ballot Voting” – voters do not need to cite a specific, eligible reason to be able to vote by mail. For the November 3 election, the witness signature requirement is waived due to COVID-19 concerns.
Early Voting runs from September 18 to November 2.
Registered voters do not need photo ID to vote if they registered more than 21 days before Election Day.
Minnesota allows same-day voter registration at polling locations with proof of residence. Minnesota does not offer online voter registration. Registration forms need to be received 21 days prior to Election Day or voters will have to register on Election Day at their polling location. Individuals may register to vote beginning at 17 years old.
Individuals are able to register to vote after serving all parts of their sentence, including probation, parole, or supervised release.
Minnesota has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate every year since 1976. However, Minnesota is only considered a Democratic leaning state this year due to a trend of the Democratic presidential candidate winning by smaller margins. (In 2016, the Democratic presidential candidate won 46.4% of the vote and the Republican candidate won 44.9%.)
Mail In / Absentee Ballots:
This year, mail in / absentee ballot applications were sent automatically to registered voters. Rhode Island has “No Excuse Mail Ballot Voting” – voters do not need to cite a specific, eligible reason to be able to vote by mail. There is no longer a requirement for a mail in ballot to be signed by one notary or two witnesses, as of 2016.
Rhode Island has early voting from October 14 to November 2.
A photo ID is required to vote. This includes a passport, RI driver’s license or permit, U.S. military ID, or other forms of government-issued photo ID. If a voter cannot provide a photo ID, they can submit a provisional ballot, and have 24 hours to provide the Board of Canvassers with evidence of the photo ID. This is required as of 2016.
Rhode Island is a strong Democratic voting state, and has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate every election since 1988.
Rhode Island does not have same day registration, except during Presidential elections. On Election Day, voters may go to City or Town Hall to register to vote for President / Vice President. Note this does not apply to Congressional elections. Otherwise, voters are required to register 30 days before an election.
Rhode Island allows online voter registration, as well as a form that can be mailed in.
Rhode Island allows pre-registration starting at age 16.
As of November 7, 2006, felons who have served their time can vote. This includes individuals on probation.
In Georgia, photo ID is needed in order to vote at any voting location. This has been the case since at least 2006, but the option of a provisional ballot is left for those who do not have valid Identification. Most forms of Valid photo ID that georgia takes are government issued which may lead to ballot discrimination against those who do not have the inclination to get a drivers lisense or other IDs.
Early voting in Georgia for the 2020 election cycle will start on October 12th and go to October 30th, This is a large decrease from before 2012 when Georgia reduced the number of days from 45 to 21 as well as cutting early voting from the weekend before election day.
Voter registration is harder in Georgia than in some states with hard copies or photocopies of a Georgia driver’s license or valid ID number needed; alternatively a voter could just get a Georgia voter card but it requires similar paperwork to recieve. The deadline to register for an election is also a month before the date of the election itself which has led to problems amongst the certain voting groups. In 2018 a bill was put into place that made voter registration much more difficult by necessitating registration data to arbitrarily match other state records; this was mostly undone in 2019 to the relief of many. In Georgia, there was also a law passed but not enacted in 2009 that required documented proof of citizenship in order to register to vote but this legislation was never enforced and is currently subject to ongoing litigation.
The state of Georgia hovered between consistent democratic support until the mid 20th century where it turned into a swing state until settling with consistent Republican support over the last six elections. This preference has decreased since its peak in the early 2000s but there is still a sizable lead over the democrats.
There is no excuse needed for an absentee ballot request. In order to vote using an absentee ballot, you must apply to receive one. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is as late as the Friday before the election but Georgia usually does not count absentee ballots after election day, with this year being an exception due to a recent court ruling. The state of Georgia has not chosen to implement mail in ballots to all people but has elected to send absentee ballots to all voters for primaries in the past.
Georgia has made the voter registration process smoother over time through the implementation of automatic voter registration which has led to increased voter registration over the years. Currently it is allowed in numerous campuses across the state. Students are allowed to register with their home address or with their school’s address using just the last four digits of their social security number, which facilitates young voter registration. Online voter registration has been facilitated throughout the past elections and is being implemented more rigorously in this election year. Same day registration is not allowed in Georgia.
According to Georgia voting laws, felons are restored their right to vote upon the completion of their sentence. Such law has been in place since before 2004. Unlike other states, there is no wait time after the full completion of a sentence. This does not include parole or probation which leaves many citizens out of prison but still unable to vote. While these restrictions seem basic it has withheld the right to vote from over a quarter of a million Georgian residents or about three percent of the total population of the state.
Post Written by Powell Sheagren and Gabriela Hernandez
In recent elections, Ohio has been competitive; every winning presidential candidate between 1960 and 2016 carried Ohio. It is the only state other than Florida to be carried by every winning presidential candidate between 2000 and 2016.
Absentee Voting Options:
State note: Marked ballots must either be received by county board of elections prior to the close of the polls on Election Day, or postmarked no later than the day before the election and received by the board of elections no later than 10 days after the election.
Indiana has been primarily Republican throughout its history, and today is the “reddest” state in the Midwest, except the Presidential Election of 2008 when Barack Obama edged John McCain.
How to Vote Early in Indiana : on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 your local polling place will be open for you to cast your ballot from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, if you would like to vote early, you have three options.
You may be eligible to vote through the use of the travelling board if you are:
Access to Vote in Indiana:
Montana has consistently voted Republican in recent presidential elections. The Democratic presidential candidate has only won in two elections since 1952, and the Republican candidate has won 5 of the 6 most recent elections. Additionally, Montana is one of seven states with the minimum three electoral votes, so the state has never been considered a swing state.
In Montana, a voter must present ID to vote in person, including any of the following: a current photo ID with their name, or a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document showing their name and address. Voters cannot use an out-of-state ID and expired forms of ID are not accepted. Student IDs are accepted if they include a photo and are not expired. If a voter forgets to bring ID or does not have a form of ID with them on Election Day, they can still vote by filling out a “Polling Place Elector ID” form, or vote by provisional ballot and presenting an acceptable form of ID to the county election office by 5:00pm the day after the election.
Voters do not need to submit a copy of ID to vote absentee, unless it is their first time registering to vote in the state. In the latter case, voters must submit with either their absentee ballot application or official absentee ballot one of the following: a copy of a current and valid photo identification, or a copy of current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that includes the name and address of the voter.
Montana has allowed any registered voter to vote absentee without having to specify a reason since October 1,1999. The state’s in person, no-excuse absentee voting functions as early voting. Voters can fill out their absentee ballot and return it to the county elections office in person or by mail as soon as absentee ballots are available, which is no later than 30 days before an election. Absentee ballots are not counted until polls close on Election Day. Voters can also register and vote in person on Election Day.
Montana is one of 31 states which conducts signature verification for mailed-in ballots by comparing a voter’s signature on their ballot carrier envelope to the signature on their ballot or their signature already on file with the county clerk. State law includes a cure provision, meaning that if election officials determine a mismatch between the signature on a ballot and the voter’s signature on file or discover a ballot that is unsigned, they must immediately attempt to notify the voter of the issue. Voters whose signatures are flagged have until the time the polls close on election day to verify or provide their signatures.
Due to COVID-19, counties are authorized to conduct the November 3, 2020 general election entirely by mail.
Montana does not have online voter registration. Montana does not require training or notification requirements for voter registration drives, though the state does not allow registration drive participants to be paid based on how many registrations they collect.
Montana’s laws regarding voting rights for felons are less strict than many other states’ laws. Written into the state’s original constitution in 1972, the voting rights of incarcerated individuals are restored automatically once they are released from prison. Individuals cannot vote while in prison.
College students, whether they are from Montana and attend a college in the state or residents from another state attending college in Montana, are able to choose where they would like to vote. Students who choose to vote outside of their county can request an absentee ballot to do so. Student IDs are an accepted form of identification to vote in person, so long as they are unexpired and include the student’s name and address, or name and signature, or name and photograph.
Connecticut has consistently voted Democrat since the 1992 presidential election and the Democratic candidate has won in 6 out 6 of the last presidential elections. The state voted Republican in the 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, and 1988 presidential elections.
The state has not been considered a swing state in any of the 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, or 2020 presidential elections.
You must present ID to vote in person in Connecticut, though non-photographic forms of ID are accepted. To satisfy the federal ID requirement under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), first-time voters in an election with a federal candidate on the ballot must present one of the following: a copy of a current, valid photo ID that shows the voter’s name and address (which does not need to be a government-issued ID), or a copy of a recent utility bill, bank statement, government check or document, or paycheck that shows their name and address. The HAVA ID requirement is a one-time requirement which can be satisfied upon registering to vote or when voting at the polls on Election Day.
Individuals who have previously voted in a federal election in Connecticut may present their social security card or any pre-printed form of identification that shows their name and address, or name and signature, or name and photograph to vote in person. Voters do not need to submit a copy of ID to vote absentee, unless it is their first time registering to vote in the state. In the latter case, according to Sec. 9-23r, voters must submit with either their absentee ballot application or official absentee ballot one of the following: a copy of a current and valid photo identification, or a copy of current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that includes the name and address of the voter.
Connecticut does not have early voting by mail or in person, but absentee voting is permitted for some individuals. Absentee ballots are limited to active members of the U.S. armed forces, voters who will be out of town on Election Day, voters with an illness or disability, voters who will be working at a polling place other than their own on Election Day, and voters whose religious beliefs prevent them from performing secular activities including voting on Election Day. However, due to COVID-19, all Connecticut voters are eligible to vote by absentee ballot in the general election held on November 3, 2020.
Voters in Connecticut have been able to register online since the 2014 midterm elections, after HB 5024 was passed in 2012. Voters may also register and vote in person on Election Day.
Connecticut has passed legislation to re-enfranchise former felons over the past two decades. In 2001, advocacy organizations formed the the Connecticut Voting Rights Restoration Coalition and advocated for the restoration of voting rights for individuals on probation for a felony conviction, which came to fruition when Substitute HB 5042 passed the Democratic-led General Assembly and signed into law as Public Act 01-11 in May 2001. Individuals whose voting rights were restored by this law were required to submit proof that they have been released from confinement and, if applicable, have completed parole, until the act was amended in 2006. Since then, former felons in Connecticut have not been required to present proof of their restoration of rights in order to vote.
Today, Connecticut’s laws regarding voting rights for individuals with criminal records are moderately strict in comparison to other states’ laws. Voting rights are restored automatically once a person is released from prison and discharged from parole, and individuals are allowed to vote while on probation. However, they must pay all fines and fees before they are permitted to vote. Individuals cannot vote while in prison or on parole.
College students, whether they are from Connecticut and attend a college in the state or residents from another state attending college in Connecticut, are able to choose where they would like to vote. Students who choose to vote in their home state are able to request an absentee ballot to do so. Student IDs are an accepted form of identification to vote in person, so long as they include the student’s name and address, or name and signature, or name and photograph.
Work by John Woodliff-Stanley and Andie Kapiloff
Mississippi consistently votes Republican, having gone red in every Presidential election since 1976.
Absentee Ballot Access
Absentee ballots can be requested in Mississippi given that an eligible excuse is given. For a full list of these excuses, click here. In light of COVID-19, a physician-imposed quarantine has been added as an eligible excuse.
Access to Mail-In Voting
Absentee and mail in ballots are referred to synonymously by the Mississippi Secretary of State. These ballots can be mailed in, however voters need an eligible excuse in order to request such a ballot.
College student voting
Mississippi does not offer early voting.
Online Voter Registration
Mississippi does not offer online voter registration.
Rules governing groups registering voters
Mississippi does not have any laws restricting who may help others to register to vote, does not require registration drives to register with the state, does not require training to assist with registration, and no deadline for submitting the applications is mentioned in Mississippi law.
Same Day Registration
Mississippi does not offer same-day registration.
Mississippi permanently disenfranchises at least some people with criminal convictions, unless the government approves individual rights restoration. There are 21 crimes which result in permanent felon disenfranchisement, however if someone has not committed one of these 21 crimes, they may vote even while incarcerated.
States that pre-register soon-to-be voters in high school
You must be 18 on or by the next general election to register to vote in the state of Mississippi, meaning young voters are not automatically pre-registered.
Voter ID Laws
Voters must show ID to vote in Mississippi, but not to vote via absentee ballots.
Wyoming has voted red in every Presidential election since 1964.
Absentee Ballot Access
There are no limits to who can request an absentee ballot in Wyoming.
Access to Mail-In Voting
Absentee and mail-in ballots are referred to synonymously on Wyoming’s Secretary of State website. Anyone registered voter is eligible to receive an absentee ballot in Wyoming, however an application is required that includes full name, date of birth, current residence address, mailing address for the ballot, the election the ballot is for, a statement of eligibility, and which party one plans to vote for in the case of primary elections.
College student voting
No in person voter ID is required in Wyoming. Students in Wyoming can choose to register to vote from their permanent home address, or their college address.
Wyoming allows for early voting through in-person absentee voting forty days before an election, according to Statute §22-9-105 and 125. This is in contrast to 2004 when Wyoming did not offer in-person early voting.
Online Voter Registration
Online voter registration is not available in Wyoming, however it is possible to apply for voter registration by mail.
Rules governing groups registering voters
Same Day Registration
2017 legislation allowed for individuals who were first time offenders of nonviolent crimes to automatically have their right to vote restored after completing supervision. However, those who completed sentences prior to January 1, 2010 must still apply for restoration of the right to vote. Violent ex-felons can only have voting rights restored if they are pardoned by the governor, meaning otherwise these individuals have lifetime disenfranchisement.
States that pre-register soon-to-be voters in high school
Wyoming allows for registration of voters who will be 18 by the election, however does not explicitly allow for pre-registration of younger voters.
Voter ID Laws
Photo ID or any in-person voter ID is not required for voting in Wyoming. However, individuals voting by mail in a federal election for the first time must show an accepted form of ID. In order to register to vote, residents in Wyoming must show a valid form of ID, such as driver’s license or U.S. passport. A full list of acceptable forms of ID can be found here.
Colorado is generally considered a swing state, and it has split 3-3 between the Republican and the Democratic Presidential candidate in the last six elections. However, it has gone blue in the last three elections.
Absentee Ballot Access
There are no limits to who can request an absentee ballot in Colorado.
Access to Mail-In Voting
A comprehensive bill on voter access and election modernization signed in 2013 instituted mail ballot elections, in which all voters are sent mail-in ballots. While in person voting is still possible as well, each registered voter is sent a mail-in ballot automatically.
Absentee Voter ID and Mail-in Voter ID Laws
ID may be required with a mail-in ballot in Colorado if you have recently registered fro the first time. If this is the case, instructions will be provided with the ballot. Otherwise, a signature is all that is needed, not ID.
College student voting
In 2004 Colorado already had in person early voting, and this remains the same policy today.
Online Voter Registration
Voters can register online in Colorado if they have a Colorado driver’s license or ID card.
Rules governing groups registering voters
Same Day Registration
A comprehensive bill on voter access and election modernization signed in 2013 changed the law to allow for same day registration in Colorado at voter service and polling centers.
Payment of restitution is not a necessary condition for ex-felons to vote in Colorado. A 2019 bill restored voting rights to parolees in Colorado. It is illegal to vote while incarcerated in Colorado.
States that pre-register soon-to-be voters in high school
2017 Colorado revised statutes require that every public school appoint a staff person to help register soon to be eligible high schoolers. Colorado encourages the pre-registration of voters starting at age 16.
Voter ID Laws
For in person voting, Colorado requires that voters provide some form of identification, however this does not have to be photo ID. A valid Colorado driver’s license, a U.S. passport, an employee ID card, a Medicare or Medicaid card, or a U.S. birth certificate are all examples of accepted forms of ID. For a complete list of accepted forms of ID in Colorado, click here.
In Kansas, while voters are not sent ballots or applications to vote by mail, anyone can apply to vote by mail without an excuse, which is not a change from previous elections. A 2010 law passed by the state legislature clarified that Kansas must provide absentee ballots to those living overseas. Kansas has had mail-in voting since 1996.
Kansans can vote early in person at county election offices or satellite voting locations up to 20 days before election day. Early voting lasts until noon the day before the election. Kansas’ laws have been consistent regarding early voting as the state passed the last law on the subject in 1995.
Same day registration is not permitted in Kansas; in the most recent legislative session a law to establish same-day registration was rejected in committee. Kansas requires voters to register to vote at least 20 days prior to the election.
Voter registration drives are allowed in Kansas as of 2018, and are encouraged by hardline former Secretary of State Kris Kobach, with no legislation regarding voter registration drives specifically. Organizers can fill out a form for someone else to register but the voter must sign the document themselves.
Kansas’ information on voter registration does not specify pre-registering voters still in high school. It is one of 26 states that does not address an age for registration and simply allows someone to register if they will be 18 by the next general election.
There are no state laws specifically addressing out-of-state college students voting, but it is accepted that students can vote as long as they register 21 days prior to the election, which applies to every Kansan.
Kobach’s incredibly strict Voter ID law, the SAFE Act, requiring proof of citizenship, which was passed in 2011 and implemented in 2013, was rejected by the Supreme Court; Kobach, however, sidestepped the ruling by applying the law only to local and state elections. This too later was struck down, in 2018; however, according to all sources voters in Kansas who cannot provide valid ID must fill out a provisional ballot and bring ID in person to their county registration office. (National Conference of State Legislatures) An ID is still required at polling sites. However, voters can apply for a free, non-driver ID and can use coronavirus as an excuse if their driver’s license is expired.
Despite electing a Democratic governor in 2018, a close senate race in 2020, and Trump on track to win by a smaller margin than he did in 2016, Kansas has been solidly Republican at the presidential level for decades, voting for Republicans in each of the last six presidential elections.
Absentee Ballot Access: Pennsylvania requires that to attain an absentee ballot, you must be out of your voting municipality on election day; “If you plan to be out of the municipality on election day or if you have a disability or illness, you should request this ballot type, which still requires you to list a reason for your ballot”
Existing Absentee Voter ID and Mail-In Voter ID Documentation: Unless you are voting for the first time, you do not need to provide ID documentation. This is only at the polling place however. In Pennsylvania for Absentee and Mail-In, there is no Photo ID documentation needed.
Changes to Absentee Voter ID and Mail-In Voter ID: In 2012 the Pennsylvania State Legislature passed a law mandating that everyone would be required to present Photo ID when voting. This law was struck down in 2014 however, in Applewhite v. Commonwealth
Access to Mail-In Voting: Any qualified voter may apply for a mail-in ballot, and no excuse is required for this. Pennsylvania had planned to allow this and determined in 2019 that they would allow mail-in voting during the 2020 election.
Mail-In Ballots Authorized for the first time in 2020: Actually authorized at the end of 2019, in the Pennsylvania State Congress’s Regular Session, the State decided that in 2020, Mail-in voting would be allowed for the first time, in a bid to make voting more accessible as well as more feasible as anyone can request a Mail-in ballot without having to supply a reason for doing so; this editing of Pennsylvania Election Code is known as Senate Bill 421.
Early Voting: Pennsylvania does not allow early voting.
States that have mainly supported one part or the other since the Election of 1996: Pennsylvania voted for the Democratic Party’s candidate from the election of 1996 through the election of the 2012, breaking the election streak of voting Blue in 2016 when the state was won (albeit surprisingly) by Trump.
States that voted for Obama and then Trump: This does apply to Pennsylvania, as the state voted 52% in 2012 and 54.7% in 2008 for Obama, and in the 2016 election Trump won by .7%, with Trump receiving 48.6% and Clinton receiving 47.9%.
Online Voter Registration: In Pennsylvania, 2015 became the year in which Online Voter registration was made possible. Governor Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortes made a joint announcement about the implementation of online voter registration. In addition, a Penndot driver’s license is not necessarily required, but one can upload a digital signature to sign their application (if they do not have a PennDOT signature/ID card on file)
Same Day Registration: Pennsylvania does not have same day voter registration available to its electorate.
Rules governing groups registering voters: In Pennsylvania the only barrier to group voter drives is that anyone who assists in the completion of a person’s registration application must sign the application and provide their address.
College Student Voting: College students can register to vote in the voting district in which their school/school residence resides so long as they have resided there before and intend to return. They can use a college address or their residence address. Because of this, it is easier for college students to register to vote than it had been previously.
States that pre-register soon-to-be voters in high school: Pennsylvania allows an individual to register if they will turn 18 by the time of the next election.
Voter ID Laws: First time voters are the only ones required to produce a photo id when voting in the election. In 2012 the Pennsylvania State Legislature ruled that everyone must produce photo identification, but this was overturned in 2014 in Applewhite v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Swing States: Historically Pennsylvania has been considered a battleground/swing state.
States covered in whole or in part by §5 of the Voting Rights Act in 2013: Not applicable
States that Disenfranchise Felons: Pennsylvania allows those that have been released from a penal institution, halfway house or other alternative correctional facility for a felony conviction to vote. There is no waiting period, you may vote so long as your release occurs before the next election.
States requiring ex-felons to make restitution, pay court fees, etc. in order to get voting rights restored: Pennsylvania has no such requirements
New Hampshire traditionally has had strict absentee voting laws but the state expanded access in 2020 due to the coronavirus. A 2018 law , House Bill 1264 signed into law by Governor Sununu, states evidence of identity and domicile in New Hampshire is now required in the application to vote absentee as is the case when registering to vote in person. New Hampshire does require an excuse to to vote absentee, but fear of exposure to coronavirus is listed as one of the potential excuses.
Voters who choose to vote in-person are required to do so on election day; New Hampshire does not have early voting.
New Hampshire voters must register in-person or by mail for 2020. New Hampshire does not offer online voter registration.
New Hampshire has allowed voters to register to vote on election day in-person since a statute passed in 1996.
New Hampshire disenfranchises felons only while they are serving their prison sentences; in response to confusion around the wording of a “full discharge” required for felons to vote, a 2019 law, House Bill 486, clarified that in the case of voting, a “full discharge” meant merely serving the time of incarceration before voting rights are restored.
While there are no specific laws regarding voter registration drives in New Hampshire, according to correspondence between researchers at the Brennan Center and the New Hampshire Assistant Secretary of State, voter registration drives are not allowed. This is consistent with Chapter 654 of New Hampshire State Law, which requires voters to register themselves to vote.
New Hampshire college students from out of state have been allowed to vote easily in the past, though the aforementioned controversial 2018 law, House Bill 1264 (Link to PDF below) has created controversy and accusations of voter suppression as its confusing language requires students with cars to get a New Hampshire driver’s license and register in New Hampshire, with concerns that college students from out of state would not be able to vote. A similar State Senate Law, Senate Bill 3, that required students registering within 30 days of the election prove residence and domicile in New Hampshire, was struck down in State Court in 2019. It now seems College students are able to cast their ballots in New Hampshire in the 2020 election with no obstacles. http://gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status/billText.aspx?id=1365&txtFormat=html&sy=2018
New Hampshire passed a law, Senate Bill 289, requiring a photo ID to vote, in 2012 when the State Legislature and State Senate overrode the governor’s veto. The requirement fully went into effect in 2015. The law states voters do not need a photo ID if they fill out an affidavit but then must later confirm their identity to a clerk of a “town, ward, or city.”
While New Hampshire has voted for Democrats in five of the last 6 presidential elections, it has been considered a swing state for all of them. While Hillary Clinton won the state in 2016, it had the second-smallest margin of victory of any state behind Michigan.
Note: the laws have not changed since 2004 unless otherwise mentioned.
Texas shifted from being a largely democratic state to a Republican one. Last time it voted for a democratic candidate was in the 1976 election. The migration of older conservatives to Texas and the realignment of Southern Democrats with the Republican party largely contribute to this shift. Voters who were Southern Democrats with conservative perspectives began to side with the Republican party and gradually Texas became a red state. This realignment of parties is a part of a larger trend in Southern states as party ideologies were redefined and the political landscape became more polarized.
Texas is not considered a swing state in the 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, or 2020 elections.
Online Voter Registration
Texas does not have online voter registration.
There are no restrictions on who is allowed to vote early. In fact, Texas has allowed all registered voters to vote early in-person since 1991. For the Nov. 3, 2020 election, in-person early voting begins on Oct. 13 and ends on Oct. 30.
Same Day Registration
Texas does not allow for same day registration.
Groups Registering Voters
In Texas to become a VDT or a volunteer deputy registrar, usually those in charge of registration drives, a person must request an appointment by contacting the voter registrar in their county. Once information on training is provided the VDT must complete the training. Their term expires on the 31st of December of the even-number year so you must be reappointed to start a registration drive in another election. As the process is so complicated it is incredibly difficult for voters to start voter registration drives. Additionally, VDTS must be deputized on a county by county basis. When there are 254 counties, registration drives are practically impossible.
Until 2011, a VDT had to be a qualified voter in Texas. However the legislature passed a law to limit it “Texas residents and qualified voters.” Additionally, VDTS must present certificates, submit duplicate receipt of applications to registrars, and deliver an application in person to the registrar no later than “5 p.m. of the fifth day after the date the application is submitted to the volunteer deputy registrar.” Even then there are vague exceptions to this rule.
In a 2015 Senate Bill 153, Texas transitioned to an optional training method for VDTs instead in-person training sessions and allowed voter registrars to terminate appointments as they see fit if they deem any malpractice. Prior to this bill, all VDTs had to attend sessions and most of them were infrequent: some occurred once a month or even less.
Currently, a VDT must be 18, a resident of Texas, cannot be an ex-felon, qualified to vote, and must follow training protocol outlined here.
College Student Voting
In Spring of 2019, the Texas Legislature outlawed polling places that did not stay open for the entire 12-day voting period which disproportionately affected college students who casted ballots in polling places at colleges that would now be shut down.
The policy for eligible college voters has not changed. College students have a choice to either vote in Texas or the state in which they are attending college depending on the place they call “home.” Voters from other states may register in Texas upon cancellation of registration in their prior place of residence.
Pre-registering High School Students
Texas H.B. 210 passed in 1983 and required high school principals to register eligible students to vote. However, research from as recent as 2019 finds that the law is not entirely effective at increasing voter registration amongst high school students because many school administrators are unaware of their duties to register students or do not know what exactly is required of them. In 2017, the Texas Civil Rights Project found that for the 2016 election, only 14% of Texas public schools with at least 20 seniors had taken the initiative to order registration forms from the Secretary of State. Their more recent research found that for the 2018 elections, 34% of schools had taken this step. While this research shows school administrations are improving their efforts to pre-register students to vote but still less than half of schools comply with the state law.
A 1997 law signed by Governor George Bush allows ex-felons to vote when sentences are complete or have “fully discharged” their sentence. This also includes the punishment phase (including any term of incarceration, parole, or supervision, or completed a period of probation ordered by the court. There have been no legislative changes since. Ex-felons’ right to vote is automatically restored, though, in some cases it is difficult to determine when a sentence is completed and an individual is fully “discharged.” For example, an ex-felon who has been fully discharged but has not not paid court fees and such should contact a county clerk for more information. A house bill was introduced in 2019 by Democratic representative Senfronia Thomspon that would allow felons to vote while incarcerated but it is still pending.
Texas does not explicitly state that ex-felons need to pay court fees but they have “implicit” laws requiring fines, fees and restitution be paid as a condition of their parole.
Texas also allows absentee voting, commonly referred to as “early voting by mail,” for voters with qualified excuses, including: being out of their county of residence on Election Day and during the early voting period, having an illness and disability, being age 65 or older, and being confined in jail but otherwise eligible to vote.
Texas is one of 31 states which conducts signature verification for mailed-in ballots by comparing a voter’s signature on their ballot carrier envelope to the signature on their ballot or their signature already on file with the county clerk. Typically, election officials in Texas do not follow up with voters whose mailed-in ballots do not pass the signature verification process. However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state modified its procedures for the 2020 general election so that a mailed-in ballot may not be rejected for a perceived signature discrepancy, unless the voter is given enough notice to cure their ballot’s rejection. Texans voting early by mail do not have to provide proof of identification, unless it is their first time voting in a federal election. To satisfy the federal ID requirement under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), first-time voters in an election with a federal candidate on the ballot must present one of the following: a copy of a current, valid photo ID that shows the voter’s name and address (which does not need to be a government-issued ID), or a copy of a recent utility bill, bank statement, government check or document, or paycheck that shows their name and address. The HAVA ID requirement is a one-time requirement which can be satisfied upon registering to vote or when voting at the polls on Election Day.
Voter Identification Laws
In 2011 the Texas Act 123, SB 14 amended a 1997 law to create a strict photo ID requirement. This means that voters without acceptable identification must vote on a provisional ballot and take their own measures to make sure their ballot is counted.The Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 14 that required a voter to present to 1 of 7 acceptable forms of identification to vote in person. These IDs included a driver’s science, a military identification card, a citizenship certificate, and a passport to name a few. The law was subject to preclearance by the U.S. Justice Department and did not become law at this time. The law did not officially go into effect until 2013 where it faced court challenges.
In June of 2013, U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the formula that had determined that Texas and other states and local jurisdictions must seek approval of the U.S. Justice Department before implementing changes to voting laws and procedures. Attorney general Gregg Abbot declared that the Voter ID requirements enacted in 2011 would become effective immediately.
In August 2015 a federal appeals court ruled it could not be enforced while the case goes back to a lower court.
Finally in 2017 SB 5 essentially amended existing law, moving it to the non-strict, photo ID category which means it is not the voter’s responsibility to ensure ID is shown. With this new law, voters have the option to sign a sworn statement that they had a “reasonable impediment” to getting an acceptable photo ID.
Current forms of identification include drivers license, identification certificate, handgun license, citizenship certificate or passport. Voters without these forms of IDs may cast regular ballots if they sign a Reasonable Impediment form and submit a supporting ID like a copy of a utility bill, government issued document, paycheck etc. The voter can only cast a provisional ballot if a supporting ID is not shown.
Nevada was a swing state in 2008, 2012, and 2016. Republicans used to be dominant, but new influx of population has made Nevada a battleground state. In 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by a margin of 48% to 46%.
States that have supported mainly one party since 1996:
Nevada has been a swing state but it voted blue in 4 out of the 6 last elections.
Felon voting rights:
In 2019, Nevada passed a bill to automatically restore felons’ voting rights upon release from prison.
2020 Coronavirus Changes:
Nevada will mail all active, registered voters a ballot in late September or early October.
There is online voting in Nevada.
You do not need ID unless it is your first time voting. Acceptable forms of identification include a current and valid form from the following:
Nevada Driver’s license
Nevada Identification Card
Armed Forces Identification Card
Sheriff’s Work Identification Card
Identification Card issued by an Agency of the State of Nevada or other political subdivision
Student Identification Card
United States Passport
Tribal Identification Card
Changes to Voting Laws:
Nevada is working to include voter rights into its constitution via ballot question.
Swing State: N/A
Absentee Ballot Access:
All voters are eligible to vote absentee in New Jersey. There are no special eligibility requirements to vote absentee.
College Student Voting:
Students have a choice about whether to vote at home or at school. They can register at their campus address or choose to remain at their home address.
Online Voter Registration:
New Jersey has online voter registration.
Same day registration:
New Jersey does not have same day registration.
States covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 2013:
New Jersey is not covered.
Restoring voting rights to ex-felons:
Those convicted of felonies automatically regain their voting rights. In 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill restoring rights for people on probation or parole.
States that have mainly supported one party since the election of 1996:
New Jersey has voted Democrat in the last seven elections.
States that voted for Obama and then Trump: N/A
Voter ID Laws:
Most New Jersey voters do not need to show ID in order to vote, except for certain first-time voters. Acceptable forms of ID include:
Changes in Voting Laws due to Coronavirus:
Mail-in ballots were sent to all registered voters in the general election.
Notable Changes in Voting Laws Over Time:
In 2015, the Republican Governor Chris Christie vetoed AB 4613 which would have created online voting, expanded early voting, and automatically enrolled people.
In 2018, the New Jersey General Assembly adopts A2014, which created automatic voter registration.
By Joel Paulson and Madison Kline
Mail in and Absentee voting has been legal in Utah since at least 2004 and has no limits to eligibility. More recently, Utah has become one of the nine states in the country that sends ballots to all registered voters each election cycle; this new system was introduced in 2013 and has been used every year since No changes were made to adapt to COVID-19 since mail in ballots are already sent. Utah has found a lot of success in their mail in voting with 21 of its 29 counties voting primarily by mail. The success of the Republican party in Utah through mail in voting in is in contrast with the national Republican party has openly questioned its legitimacy.
Utah sas voted consistently Republican for the last 50 years and with a large majority of votes as well. Utah should not be considered a swing state and very much holds to a track record of conservative ideological leaning.
Early voting is an available option from October 20th to 30th which includes two weekends but not the weekend before election day. Early voting has been around since 2006 where it was first implemented into the Utah state election code.
There are no restrictions to registering to vote, moreover a law was passed in 2018 that established a procedure for same-day voter registration. Valid ID is needed and Utah prefers the use of a Utah drivers license or other state ID. Younger voters are also allowed to pre-register if they are between 16-17 and will automatically be sent a ballot once they are ready to vote, and college voters are empowered to vote from their home adress or their college adress. Additionally online voter registration is possible through the state of Utah’s website.
In Utah, all voters are required to show some form of non-photo identification while voting which ranges from driver licenses, concealed carry cards, and military ID cards. This sort of requirement is not needed for Absentee voting but other voter registration restrictions apply.
In Utah, Voting rights are automatically restored to prisoners (felons and otherwise) after release from prison, at least since 2004, after serving their full sentences or receiving parole. Interestingly while the incarcerated are not allowed to vote they count as residents of the precinct they are inturned in may lead to inflated.
The District of Columbia cast its 3 electoral votes for the Democratic candidate for president by large margins in 2008, 2012, and 2016.