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Voting in the United States Has Never Been Easier

If you’ve had even half an ear open to the news about elections over the past years, it’s likely that you are not only tired of all the negative news, but you might also have gotten the opinion that voting in the US is a terrible, horrible, no-good, complicated, difficult, complex process. And a few other things, too! That would be no surprise. The media around elections seems relentless and overwhelmingly negative.

Help is on the way! We bring you good news about voting in America!

This good news is courtesy of the researchers at the esteemed Center for Elections Innovation and Research (CEIR) and their recent report on the expansion of voting before Election Day.

Voting has become More Convenient

Several methods of voting implemented over the last two decades has made voting more convenient for all citizens no matter their residential situation. Most states now offer some mix of no-excuse absentee balloting, early voting, in-person absentee voting, emergency balloting, and same day registration and voting.

Of course, voting in-person at your polling place on Election Day is still available. These alternative voting options are offered to provide convenience to voters and to alleviate the risk of not being able to vote on Election Day. That could simply be the fact that you work on Election Day, which always happens to be on a busy Tuesday. There are folks who want to change that, but so far, it seems to be stuck on a weekday!

Busy Lives Can Include Voting

In addition to not being sure you can get away from work to vote, issues of child or elder care can make it difficult to go to the polls, especially if you are not sure how long you may have to wait to cast your ballot. Or, perhaps you are traveling within or outside of the U.S. These are just a few of the reasons that might make voting prior to Election Day a preferable option for you.

Early Voting is a Positive Trend

When voting is spread out across several days or weeks, it also makes it easier for officials to alleviate any technical issues that might arise. And, if the voting time is sufficient, it eliminates long lines and wait times. Lastly, early voting may allow more time to catch human error or foul play in the voting process.

Despite actions in some states to restrict ballot access, the trend continues toward making it easier to vote. According to a recent report released by the Center for Election Information and Research (CEIR), nearly 97% of U.S. citizens live in a state that provides voters at least one method to vote prior to Election Day and these methods are becoming increasingly more popular.

Dramatic Changes in Voting Options Over the Past Two Decades

According to CEIR data, in 2000, 24 states offered voters the option of early in-person voting, while 21 of these states also allowed non-excuse absentee voting. Now in 2024, 46 states and Washington DC will offer in-person early voting, with 36 states and Washington DC allowing no-excuse absentee voting. The number of ballots cast prior to the election jumped from 14% in 2000 to 50% in 2022. This number is expected to rise again with this year’s presidential election.1


Options for Voting Prior to Election Day: 2024 General Election2

map of US with states color coded showing various early voting options
  • Green: options for vote early in-person and by mail available to all voters
  • Purple: option to voter early in-person available to all voters. Excuse required for vote-by-mail.
  • Yellow: No early in-person voting. Excuse require to vote-by-mail.

What Types of Voting are Available in my State?

To make it quick and easy to find out the early voting options available to you, U.S. Vote Foundation has created a tool called, Voting Methods and Options. You can choose your state and with one click, see which voting methods and options you can take advantage of in your state.

Here are the definitions:

  • Absentee Voting with Excuse is a form of early voting in states that require a reason for voters to vote-by-mail, or early in the election office, depending on the state’s allowable methods. To vote in this method, registered voters must send in an application to request an absentee ballot.

  • Absentee Voting without Excuse is also called “no-excuse absentee voting.” This is a form of early voting in states that allow all registered voters to request a ballot to vote-by-mail, or vote early in the election office depending on the state’s allowable methods. No special reason is required for registered voters to file their request for an absentee ballot.

  • All Mail Voting is a voting method adopted in certain states that chiefly conduct elections by mail. Registered voters are automatically sent a ballot to their voting residence address. If away from their voting residence, voters file a request for an absentee ballot to be sent to another address.

  • Early Voting generally refers to voting prior to Election Day during specified periods and at specified early voting locations or in the election office, depending on what is offered locally. States refer to this voting method in various ways, including early voting, early in-person voting, advanced voting, absentee voting, vote-by-mail or in-person absentee voting.

  • In-Person Absentee Voting is an early voting method that allows a voter to go in-person to a polling place or election office, depending on the state, and in one visit, complete the ballot request and immediately receive the ballot and vote, or receive a requested ballot and vote, or drop off a completed ballot.

  • Military Voting refers to an absentee ballot / vote-by-mail process that allows active-duty uniformed services members, their spouses and their eligible dependents, when away from their voting residence, to register and vote by absentee ballot in federal elections.

  • Overseas Voting / Voting from Abroad refers to an absentee ballot / vote-by-mail process that allows most U.S. citizens of voting-age who reside or are temporarily outside the United States to register and vote by absentee ballot in federal elections.

  • Election Day (Same Day) Voter Registration and Voting is an in-person voting method that allows voters to both register to vote and cast their ballot on Election Day, or on the “same day” during an early voting period.

Check My State's Voting Methods and Options

From there, you can visit the State Voter Information directory and check the General Information section to get even more details about early voting procedures and requirements in your state. And next, you can register to vote, request your absentee ballot, check your registration status, tap into the Voter Help Desk with questions. Whatever you need, it’s all here for you on the U.S. Vote Foundation website.



[2] Figure drawn by U.S. Vote Foundation. 2024 March 21. Data acquired from Center for Election Innovation and Research,…