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Voting and Election Laws

Please note important, temporary changes that may occur to voter accessibility due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This gave states the responsibility of overseeing federal elections. Many Constitutional amendments and federal laws to protect voting rights have been passed since then. 

Constitutional Amendments Affecting Voting Rights

  • The  gave African American men the right to vote in 1870. But many weren't able to exercise this right. Some states used literacy tests and other barriers to make it harder to vote.

  • Đang chơi bàiThe , ratified in 1920, gave American women the right to vote.

  • The , ratified in 1964, eliminated poll taxes. The tax had been used in some states to keep African Americans from voting in federal elections.

  • The , ratified in 1971, lowered the voting age for all elections to 18.

Federal Voting Rights Laws

Federal laws passed over the years help protect Americans’ right to vote and make it easier for citizens to exercise that right:

  • The Civil Rights Acts created some of the earliest federal protections against discrimination in voting. These protections were first outlined by the and were later amended by the Civil Rights Acts of

  • The prohibited voter discrimination based on race, color, or membership in a language minority group. It also required certain places to provide election materials in languages besides English.

  • The required polling places to be accessible to people with disabilities.

  • allowed members of the U.S. armed forces and overseas U.S. voters to register and vote by mail.

  • Đang chơi bàiThe created new ways to register to vote. It also called for states to keep more accurate voter registration lists.

  • The authorized federal funds for elections. It also created the . The EAC helps states comply with HAVA to adopt minimum standards on voter education, registration, and ballots.

  • The improved access to voting by military and overseas voters.

State Voter ID Laws

Two-thirds of states require you to show some form of identification before you’re allowed to vote. Learn more about states' voter ID requirements.

fall into three broad categories:

  • Campaign finance crimes, such as when candidates accept funds that violate the amounts or donors permitted under the law

  • Đang chơi bài, involving voter intimidation, coercion, threats, and other tactics to suppress a person’s ability to vote

  • , such as when someone illegally casts a vote in the name of a dead person or someone who’s moved

Many states have strengthened their voter ID requirementsĐang chơi bài to try to stop voter fraud.

Is it illegal for someone to ask me who I voted for? Is it illegal for me to tell?

You have the right to cast your vote in private. It’s up to you whether you want to share your choices with others.

Đang chơi bàiThere’s no law preventing someone from asking you who you voted for. 

How do I report voter fraud or voter suppression?

If you suspect voter fraud, report it to your state or territorial election officeĐang chơi bài. You can also report it to:

  • A

  • A

  • The of the Department of Justice's Criminal Division

Đang chơi bàiIf you witness or suspect voter intimidation or suppression, there are three ways you can report it:

Is Voting Mandatory in the United States?

Đang chơi bàiIn the U.S., no one is required by law to vote in any local, state, or presidential election. According to the U.S. Constitution, voting is a right and a privilege. Many constitutional amendments have been ratified since the first election. However, none of them made voting mandatory for U.S. citizens.

Voter Accessibility Laws

Đang chơi bàiVoter accessibility laws ensure that people with disabilities or language barriers are able to vote.

If you know you’ll need accommodations on Election Day, contact your state or local election office to find out what to expect at your polling place. 

Please note: Many voters with disabilities rely on in-person voting at accessible polling places. Voters with language barriers often depend on the help of interpreters at the polls. 

Changes to polling places are possible due to the coronavirus. These may include different locations, layouts, procedures, and availability of translators.

If you need to vote in person, check your polling place before Election Day. Find out about early voting options. And check with to learn:

  • Đang chơi bàiIf your needs will be met at your polling station

  • Other ways you may be able to vote

Laws and Accommodations That Help Voters With Disabilities

Đang chơi bàiSeveral federal laws protect the voting rights of Americans with disabilities. These include the and the .

Đang chơi bàiVoters with disabilities have the right to:

  • Vote in private, without help

  • Have an accessible polling place with voting machines for voters with disabilities

Đang chơi bàiPolling places must have:

  • Wheelchair-accessible voting booths

  • Entrances and doorways at least 32 inches wide

  • Handrails on all stairs

  • Đang chơi bàiVoting equipment for people who are blind or visually impaired

If you have a disability, you may:

  • Đang chơi bàiSeek help from poll workers trained to use an accessible voting machine, or

  • Bring someone to help you vote

You can also ask your election officeĐang chơi bài what other options you have.

  • Some states offer “curbside voting," when a poll worker brings everything you need to vote to your car.

  • Đang chơi bàiSome set up polling places at long-term care facilities.

  • Local organizations may provide transportation to the polls.

  • Many states let people with disabilities vote by mail.

Accommodations That Help Voters Who Need Language Assistance

The helps people overcome language barriers to voting.

  • The downloadable is available in 11 languages. Find tips on everything from registering to vote to casting a ballot on Election Day.

  • Đang chơi bàiThe is available in 15 languages. You can use it in most states to register and to update your voter registration information.

Federal law also lets you bring someone to help you if you can't read or write.

during the 2019-2020 elections. That means you can donate up to $2,800 each to:

  • One or more candidates in a federal primary election

  • One or more candidates in a federal general election

 

Financial Reporting Requirements for Candidates in Federal Elections

requires candidates to report:

  • Where the money they raise comes from, and the amounts

  • Where the money they spend goes, and the amounts

Đang chơi bàiThe law applies to candidates for president as well as for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Federal Election Commission’s Role in Campaign Finance Law

The  oversees enforcement of the Federal Election Campaign Act. The FEC:

  • Đang chơi bàiSets campaign contribution limits for individuals and groups

  • Đang chơi bàiOversees public funding used in presidential elections

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Đang chơi bàiLast Updated: September 1, 2020

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