Here's How State Voting Rules Could Change
There are a number of hot button election bills under consideration in 2023 state legislative sessions which address the questions:
- Who gets to vote?
- How stringent should voting policies be?
The ways state legislatures address these questions will shape the voting population as well as election outcomes.
U.S. Vote Foundation monitors election law changes on a state-by-state basis. Check out our State Voter Information to see if there have been any changes in your state’s laws for eligibility, identification, and ways to vote.
In our federal system, state governments largely have the authority to make rules about how to conduct elections. States have the power to:
- regulate who is able to vote, including new residents and people who are subject to judicial sanctions
- require certain forms of voter identification and proof of residency to register and/or to vote
- set up the methods of voting such as if a state will have no-excuse absentee voting or early voting
- allow voters to request and/or return ballots on-line, by mail, or by fax
- determine the dates and hours voting will be available
- decide which places will be used for polling locations
- add or remove secure ballot drop boxes
- restrict who can help voters request, complete or return ballots
These factors can have a tremendous effect on the composition of the electorate and the voter turnout rate. Some of the bills gearing up in state legislatures in 2023 address these areas of concern.
ELECTIONS CRIMES AND VOTER ID
Voter fraud and voter impersonation rarely occur. Still, some states are deliberating punitive election crime laws at state legislative committees at this time in the name of election security and election integrity. Despite the absence of statistically significant evidence of such crimes, advocates also push for strict ID requirements.
In recent years, there has been an uptick in states requiring voters to present specific IDs in order to register or vote. Ohio passed restrictive requirements in January 2023. Now the state of Pennsylvania joins those with Voter ID bills on deck.
- Currently, new voters and voters requesting absentee ballots are subject to Voter ID requirements
- The GOP is backing a bill which would require all Pennsylvania voters to furnish ID for all elections
- Republicans also push for the state to issue specific Voter IDs
Voter ID laws disproportionately impact people of color, people with lower income, and people with less education. According to Dr. Carol Anderson in her 2018 book One Person, No Vote, African-Americans were three times more likely than White Americans to report that Voter ID requirements deterred them from voting.
Dr. Anderson points out that the turnout gap for ethnic minorities is heightened in states with ID requirements. In states including Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Wisconsin, she reports that the turnout gaps jumped from
- 4.9% to 13.2% for Latino Voters
- 2.9% to 5.4% for Black Voters
- 6.5% to 11.5% for Asian Voters
VOTER REGISTRATION AND VOTER RESTORATION
While some states are considering legislation which could reduce voter turnout amongst some demographic groups, others are seeking to expand the electorate.
Minnesota is one such state. Democrats are backing a bill in the state legislature which would:
- institute automatic voter registration
- pre-register 16 year-olds
- immediately restore voting rights for people who have been convicted of a crime and are not in prison
The Marshall Project reports that one in sixteen Black Americans lose the right to vote due to a felony conviction, a rate almost four times higher than the rest of the population. Voter Restoration legislation is beginning to chip away at this disenfranchisement, but many returning citizens are unaware of legal changes allowing them to vote.
With 50 different states implementing 50 unique voting policies and election procedures, it can be challenging to keep track of restrictive proposals, fresh approaches, and new laws. U.S. Vote Foundation tracks this news each day so that you can be confident that you are up to date on your:
Contact US Vote’s Help Desk or your local election official if you have questions or concerns about any changes in your state. Make sure you are aware of how to vote in your state so that you can be included in the count of people who vote.