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REPORT: How Easy is it to Vote Early in Your State?

WASHINGTON, DC - A new report by the nonpartisan nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR), How Easy is it to Vote Early in Your State?, was released today, categorizing states as green, yellow or red, depending on the availability of, or barriers to, early and mail voting. 

When states offer easy access to mail and early in-person voting options, it not only makes it more convenient for eligible voters, it also improves election integrity, as more voting gets spread out over several days. States considering rolling back these options, by making it harder to request and return a mail ballot or reducing early voting options, are harming both access to the ballot and election security, and going against the trend in both red and blue states.

“The 2020 election cycle was the most secure election in American history,”said David Becker, JD, Executive Director and Founder of CEIR. “Voter lists were more accurate, there were more secure paper ballots, more states audited and recounted those ballots, and there was more scrutiny of the process by the courts, than ever before.”

“In the aftermath of the election, citing the losing candidate’s Big Lie that the election was ‘stolen,’ some legislators are supporting proposals to roll back many of the election reforms that led the 2020 election to be a success—in particular, early and mail voting. These efforts not only could create barriers for eligible voters, but also negatively impact election integrity by concentrating voting on a single day instead of over a longer period, which could hamper efforts to detect fraud or cyber-attacks. Most states are offering ample opportunity to vote by mail or vote early, in-person. States that are not are well behind the vast majority of other states.” 

Becker has over 22 years of experience in elections, serving as a senior attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice Voting Section in both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, as well as leading the elections team at The Pew Charitable Trusts, prior to founding CEIR. During the last several months, Becker served as CBS News’ election law expert.  

See the results of the state-by-state analysis below:

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Key terms

  • All mail - every registered voter gets a ballot. 
  • Any amount of early voting -  there is at least some period of time where any voter can vote early, in-person.
  • Excuse/No-excuse -  whether the state offered mail voting to all voters or required a specific excuse.

The Center for Election Innovation & Research compiled current data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, indicating whether the state offered mail voting to all voters or required a specific excuse, and whether the state made in-person early voting available to all voters. Those that offer both are coded in green, those that require an excuse to vote by mail but offered some early voting are coded in yellow, and those that are most restrictive, requiring both an excuse to vote by mail or vote early in-person, if that option is available at all, are coded in red. This data is accurate as of April 12, 2021, for the next federal election in 2022.

The Center for Election Innovation and Research is a nonpartisan nonprofit that works with election officials at the state and local level from around the country and from both sides of the aisle. We seek to build voter trust and confidence, increase voter participation, and improve the efficiency of election administration. For more information, visit electioninnovation.org

 

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