Advance the Freedom to Vote

End Historic Discrimination


Advance the Freedom to Vote

No matter our race, background or zip code, most Americans believe that for democracy to work for everyone, it must include everyone. Yet Americans across the country still struggle for their freedom to vote. Voting rights have long been under attack by politicians who want to make it harder for some people to cast their ballots, undermining the most basic principle of democracy.

In states across the nation today, legislatures are passing laws that intentionally make it harder to vote, which particularly impact Black voters and other voters of color, young voters, and rural voters. These antidemocratic tactics divide and distract communities while making it harder to pass laws that a majority of Americans favor. Laws that restrict voting have no place in a democracy and must be blocked at every opportunity.

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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.

Policy Priorities

  1. Federal: The For the People Act would expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and implement other anti-corruption measures.

  2. Federal: Support bills like the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would advance voting access, curb partisan gerrymandering, improve our campaign finance system, defend against election sabotage, and restore protections against racially discriminatory voting laws.

  3. State: Expand safe and accessible elections and the freedom to vote for all

  4. State: Establish same day registration and automatic voter registration

  5. State: Expand vote by mail and provide convenient ballot return options

  6. State: Provide for convenient and accessible in-person voting locations 
  7. State: Fund local rural election offices

State Examples

  • Minnesota (MN Statutes § 201.061) is one state with same-day registration; Colorado (2019 CO SB 235) is one with automatic voter registration.

  • In eight states, all registered voters automatically receive ballots in the mail and can return them by drop box, mail, or in person at a polling location. Oregon (OR Rev. Stat. 254.470) is one of these.

  • Washington (WA Code § 29A.40.091) provides prepaid postage for mail ballots.

  • Colorado (C.R.S. 1-5-102.9) requires accessible vote centers for in-person voting, in addition to expansive mail voting options.