Voter with the Rural Utah Project
At the same time, legislators in states around the country have also used many strategies to make voting accessible, including for rural voters. Rural voters face particular challenges: they are more likely to live far from their local elections office and their polling place, they are more likely to have limited internet access, and they may not have an official post office address. Rural communities also often struggle for resources and to hire election and poll workers.
To address these issues, first and foremost, state legislators can expand, rather than restrict, the freedom to vote. Policymakers can ensure that all Americans can cast ballots in accessible and safe elections to make the promise of our democracy real for all.
Other specific strategies to make voting more accessible are working well across the nation. Same-day registration allows voters to register or update their records up to and including on Election Day. Automatic voter registration allows voters to register and keep their records updated during regular transactions with government agencies like the Department of Motor Vehicles. Voters in 21 states and Washington, DC, have access to these common-sense provisions. Prepaid postage for mail ballots, accessible drop boxes, and ballot tracking can help rural voters cast ballots conveniently and ensure their ballot is counted. Expanded mail voting, coupled with accessible in-person voting options like countywide vote centers, can give rural voters the flexibility to cast a ballot on their own schedule and in a variety of ways.
Legislators can address funding needs for local election offices by connecting with election administrators in rural communities, assessing resource needs, and striving to meet these needs in the state budget.