Many states changed their election laws in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and following the 2020 election. With the 2022 elections coming up in November, the process of registering to vote and casting a ballot can vary widely from state to state.
Certain rules regarding elections are set by the Constitution, including the date of the general election, restrictions on who has the right to vote, and the prohibition of poll taxes. Congress can also pass laws to protect the right to vote including protections against voter discrimination and to ensure overseas military personnel and other American citizens living abroad can vote.
However, most election rules are set by state and county governments. Some are written in state constitutions and others are individual laws passed by the legislature. Counties typically administer elections and in some states can set rules for how and when people can vote. Election laws can also be passed by ballot initiative or referendum.
Every state except North Dakota requires residents to register to vote. Twenty-eight states require voters to register before Election Day. This deadline can range from 11 days before Election Day in Nebraska to 30 days before Election Day in nine other states.
Twenty-two states and Washington, DC offer same-day voter registration, which allows voters to register in-person at early voting locations or their polling place on Election Day. In these cases, election officials will ask the voter to fill out an application and provide necessary identification. Voters will then fill out a provisional ballot, which will not be counted until a county official verifies the registration details.
The process of registering to vote has changed within the last few decades, with most states now offering fully online registration systems. However, eight states do not offer fully-online registrations. These states require voters to submit the voter registration form either by mail or in person.
Every state offers some form of mail-in voting. Eight states mail ballots to every registered voter. With the exception of Oregon, each of these states offers in-person voting options as well. Oregon does not have any in-person polling locations.