Voting and Electoral Protection and Assistance
Key U.S. National Voting and Election laws
The official U.S. Government summary and links to Constitutional amendments and laws that protect our right to vote
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was the landmark legislation that prohibited racial disrimination in voting. The 2016 General Election was the first election in 50 years that was held without the protections afforded by the Act. In June 2013 the Supreme Court voted 5- 4 to overturn Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act which required federal review of new voting rules in 15 states, most of them in the South.
Berman, Ari. “The GOP’s Attack on Voting Rights Was the Most Under-reported Story of 2016: This was the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Right Act”. The Nation. November 2016.
Toobin, Jeffrey. The Real Voting Scandal of 2016. The New Yorker. December 12, 2016
Help America Vote Act 2002. was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2002 to reform the voting process, addressing improvements to voting ystems and voter access that were identified following the 2000 election. It created the Election Assistance Commission, established minimum election administration standards and provided federal funding to states to improve
The Election Assistance Commission
The Election Assistance Commission is responsible for helping states improve their voting systems.
From its website: EAC “is an independent, bipartisan commission established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). It is charged with supporting state and local election officials in their efforts to ensure accessible, accurate and secure elections. EAC develops guidance to meet HAVA requirements, adopts voluntary voting system guidelines, and serves as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration. EAC also accredits testing laboratories and certifies voting systems, as well as audits the use of HAVA funds”.
Unsurprisingly, there have been numerous attempts by Republicans in Congress to defund and close this agency.
Berman, Russell. “The Federal Voting Agency Republicans Want to Kill“. The Atlantic. February 12, 2017.
“House Committee votes to eliminate independent election commission“. The Guardian. February 7, 2017.
Weiser, Wendy and Brater, Jonathan. “This GOP Bill Could Make It Easier for Russia to Hack U.S. Elections”. Forbes. February 14, 2017
They have just released their 2016 full report . Some key take-aways on the 2016 General election:
On voting patterns
Turnout rate: 63 percent
Voter Registration: State motor vehicle offices remain the most common place where individuals register to vote (32.7 percent of all registrations) but online registration (17.4 percent of the total) has increased dramatically over the past four years as a source of registrations.
Pre-Election Voting: either absentee by mail or using in-person early voting. Nationally, 41 percent of all votes cast in the 2016 election were cast before Election Day.
Absentee Voting: Absentee voting rates vary dramatically across states, depending on the ease with which individuals can cast an absentee ballot in a state. Nationally, 80.1 percent of absentee ballots transmitted to voters were returned, and most states reported that over 90 percent of absentee ballots “returned and submitted for counting” were ultimately counted in the 2016 General Election.
Military and Overseas Voting: Members of the uniformed services and their dependents, as well as civilians living overseas, receive special protections voting under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). In 2016, 68.1 percent of ballots transmitted were returned. P
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