AALL has gathered voting resources for our members, including information about registering to vote, finding your polling place, and requesting absentee and mail-in ballots.
Law librarians and legal information professionals are often asked by patrons, communities, or colleagues for information about voting resources. This guide provides nonpartisan information about the U.S. election process that may be used to address some of the most frequently asked questions about voting.
This information was compiled by the AALL Government Relations Committee.
The U.S. Department of Justice website has a section discussing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, including its history and effects. The USA.gov page also includes a section on voting and election laws and history.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has a Know Your Rights section dedicated to voting rights that covers several issues discussed specifically below. The ACLU also includes information about access to polling places and voting for those who do not speak fluent English and those with disabilities.
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. signed an Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting on March 7, 2021, which expands access to voter registration and election information and increases opportunities to vote. In addition, the U.S. Congress has considered legislation to secure voter’s rights at the federal level.
The Brennan Center has produced a report on state laws working to change absentee ballot, voter identification, and other laws relating to access to the polls. Georgetown Law has created a site covering laws limiting intimidation at voting sites (particularly involving militia groups).
State Primaries Election Information
The ability to vote in the primaries, and help determine the candidate to represent one party or another, is often dependent on the type of primary election a state holds: closed, open, or some form of hybrid model. The National Conference of State Legislatures has put together a page on state primary election types, including links to to assist voters in determining what they need to know, and do, in order to vote in their primaries.
Find Your State or Local Election Office Website
The best place to find information on local elections is a state’s, county’s, or municipality’s election office website. USA.gov has a page linking to all state board of elections . It also includes links to the board of elections for territories (e.g., Puerto Rico) as well as the District of Columbia.
Find Your Polling Place
The National Association of Secretaries of State’s website links voters to their state board of elections to find their polling locations (when not voting early). Vote.org has a chart of links to each state board of elections to find polling places by address. USA.gov includes information on finding polling location and provides more general information on voting on the official Election Day.
Voter ID Requirements
Many states have passed, or are attempting to pass, laws that require voters to show a particular form of identification when casting their vote. The National Association of Secretaries of State has created a page for voters to find out what the current identification requirements are for their jurisdiction.
Beyond general elections for Congress or the Executive, there are state executive, legislative, and judiciary elections. More local are municipal elections (e.g., mayoral or votes for various city commissions). Vote.org has created a tool to send email reminders about election dates as they happen.
Voter Registration (Including Confirming Your Registration)
The National Association of Secretaries of State has developed a state-by-state search tool to help voters register to vote. A similar tool is available from USA.gov and Vote.gov. Voters will also need to ensure that they register before the deadline. USA.gov provides information about Voter Registration Deadlines.
After voters register to vote in their jurisdiction, they may need to confirm that they are registered. USA.gov provides a tool to confirm voter registration. The National Association of Secretaries of State and Vote.org provide similar tools.
Absentee and Mail-In Ballot Requests (Including Military and Overseas Voters)
The National Conference of State Legislatures has created a page dedicated to information on absentee and all-mail voting that is meant to reflect permanent state laws. More recently, American University compiled a research guide with state-by-state information on how to request ballots by each jurisdiction. This “Request a Ballot Guide” is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. A version based on the original guide was produced by Howard University.
Information for overseas voters, particularly for those in the military, can be found through the Federal Voting Assistance Program.
There is often the concern that voting through the absentee program, increases the chance of the vote not being counted. Some jurisdictions, like North Carolina, use a tool such as Ballottrax to allow voters to check, much like they would check their voter registration, whether their absentee or mail-in ballot has been received, and determine whether there are any issues with it.
Some of the above listed requirements may be considered hurdles for some voters. Votinghurdles.com has created an interactive map of the tasks that people may have to overcome to vote in their jurisdiction.
COVID-19 and 2020 Voting Resources
Concerns about COVID-19 will, and have already, affected voting behavior. State-by-state information and suggestions on how to vote while still protecting your health can be found at Healthyvoting.org. Vote.org has consolidated changes to voting procedures due to COVID-19.