The Most (And Least) Difficult States To Vote

by Kathy Morris
Rankings - 1 week ago

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For Americans across the country, where they live impacts how, when, and if they exercise their right to vote.

Even in national elections, state laws and regulations impact the voter experience. Covid and the resulting social distancing has highlighted differences- and difficulties- in the voting experience.

We evaluated early voting, voter registration, voter id, and felon voting rights to examine states where it is most difficult to exercise your right to vote.

The results? In some states voting is simple, and straightforward. However, many states swamp voters in restrictions and wear them down with long processes- and even longer lines.

The 10 Worst States For Voters

  1. Mississippi
  2. Alabama
  3. Virginia
  4. Missouri
  5. Kentucky
  6. South Carolina
  7. Georgia
  8. Kansas
  9. Iowa
  10. Tennessee

That patch of deep red is the south- a region where it’s harder to vote than anywhere else. Keep reading to see why voting is more complicated in these 10 states, and how we determined this.

Methodology

We ranked each state in 4 areas:

  • Early voting
  • Voter id
  • Registration
  • Felony voting rights

To quantify the difference, we broke each area into categories: with less restrictions making the voting process easier, and more making it more difficult. From there, each category was averaged together and ranked equally.

We borrowed the categorization system from the Guardian.

The data on voters comes from The Sentencing Project, National Conference of State Legislatures, ACLU, Brennan Center, and state legislature websites. All efforts were made to be as up to date as possible. However, this article does not take into account initiatives signed into law but are not yet in effect, and with so many recent upheavals in voting regulations due to Covid, may be missing recent developments.

You can see a breakdown of the 10 states where voters have the hardest time voting, or hope to the bottom to see a table of each state’s voting laws and policies (including which have early voting and current registration and ID requirements.)

Mississippi

mississippi class=

Registration: In Mississippi, voter registration ends 30 days prior to election day.
Felon Voting: Felons who commit certain offenses permanently lose their voting rights. Others must wait until probation and parole are complete to vote.
Early Voting: While Mississippi voters can vote absentee, this is only applicable to voters who have a “valid” excuse, such as disability. Mississippi does not allow early or no excuse absentee voting.

Alabama

alabama class=

Registration:Alabama voters must register online or through mail before election day. Alabama also uses Crosscheck, an aggressive program that has purged upwards of 650,000 people from voter rolls.
Felon Voting: If felons have committed a crime deemed “moral turpitude”, they lose voting rights in Alabama. However, upon completion of their sentence, including paid fines and fees, they may apply to have their voting rights restored.
Early Voting: Alabama does not allow early voting

Virginia

virginia class=

Registration: Voters can register online, by mail, or in person. Voters must present an acceptable form of photo ID.
Felon Voting: Currently, voters must request to have their rights restored by the governor.
Early Voting: Voters must apply for an absentee ballot by mail or online. Virginia voters can vote using an absentee ballot.

Missouri

missouri class=

Registration: Missouri voters must register 27 days or more before election day.
Felon Voting: Voting rights are restored after prison time, parole and probation.
Early Voting:Missouri allows absentee voting to those who have an approved excuse, such as disability or an age barrier. Technically this isn’t considered ‘early voting’.

Kentucky

kentucky class=

Registration: Kentucky requires registration via mail, online or in person at an approved location 28 days before the election.
Felon Voting:Convicted felons never regain the right to vote in Kentucky unless the governor restores it.
Early Voting: Kentucky does not allow no-excuse early voting.

South Carolina

south carolina class=

Registration: South Carolina requires voter’s have picture id to register and to vote. Voters without ID may sign an affidavit and vote a regular ballot. South Caorlina voters must register prior to election day.
Felon Voting:Voting rights are restored to a convicted felon after completion of their sentence, including parole and probation.
Early Voting:To vote early in South Carolina, you must have a valid excuse.

Georgia

georgia class=

Registration: Georgia has an “exact match” law, one of the strictest registration laws in the nation.
Felon Voting:Those who have committed a felony lose voting rights until the end of their sentence, including probation and parole.
Early Voting: One bright side, Georgia allows early voting. However, it is worth noting that Georgia is notorious for long voting lines and as a whole has some of the longest wait times in the country. Certain cities fare worse than others. Currently, for 2020 early voting, some voters have waited in line for 11 hours to cast their ballot.

Kansas

kansas class=

Registration: Kansas only allows voter registration 21 days prior to election day. Kansas also participates in the voter purge system Crosscheck program, meaning some voters may show up to vote, only to find themselves not registered.
Felon Voting: Felons in Kansas may regain their voting rights after sentence completion, including parole and probation.
Early Voting: Kansas allows no-excuse early voting.

Iowa

iowa class=

Registration: Strict identification (such as a driver’s license or passport) is required to vote in Iowa. However, Iowa does have same-day voter registration with picture id.
Felon Voting: In Iowa, felons never regain the right to vote, unless the governor intervenes.
Early Voting: One positive highlight, Iowa does allow no-excuse early voting.

Tennessee

tennessee class=

Registration: Tennessee voters must register 30 days before election day. On election day, in-person voters must bring a valid photo ID to vote Student ID.s do not count.
Felon Voting: Some crimes, such as murder, cost felons their voting rights permanently. Other eligible felons must apply to have their voting rights restored.
Early Voting: While Tennessee lacks in other areas, they do have strong early voting rights. No-excuse early voting begins 20 day before the election.

Voting Is Harder In These States Than Most

While many voters preserve against id requirements, voting deadlines, and lack of early or mail in voting, not all voters have equal access, time, and money.

Currently, 37 states allow early voting with no restrictions. However, that means voters in 13 states don’t. Similarly, 12 states have automatic voter registration, while another
9 allow same day registration. Other states require voters to register more than a month in advance.

Voting ID requirements (including the type of id required, up to date address) and aggressive voting purge systems can also complicate the voting equation.

While certain regions are doing better (the West coast) and others are doing worse (southern states disproportionately make it difficult to vote), overall America as a whole has a long way to go in insuring equal access to national elections.

You can see the breakdown below:

Voting Rights By State

State Early Voting Voter Id Registration Felony Voting
Alabama no early voting strict photo ID requirements register before elections parole/probation limitations
Alaska early voting with no restrictions no photo ID required automatic voter registration parole/probation limitations
Arizona early voting with no restrictions strict photo ID requirements same-day registration parole/probation limitations
Arkansas early voting with no restrictions strict photo ID requirements register before elections parole/probation limitations
California early voting with no restrictions no ID required to vote automatic voter registration parole/probation limitations
Colorado early voting with no restrictions no photo ID required automatic voter registration parole/probation limitations
Connecticut no early voting no photo ID required automatic voter registration parole/probation limitations
Delaware early voting with approval no photo ID required same-day registration some/all felons permanently disenfranchised
Florida early voting with no restrictions not strict photo ID required register before elections some/all felons permanently disenfranchised
Georgia early voting with no restrictions strict photo ID requirements proof of citizenship/exact match neede parole/probation limitations
Hawaii early voting with no restrictions no photo ID required same-day registration parole/probation limitations
Idaho early voting with no restrictions strict photo ID requirements register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
Illinois early voting with no restrictions no ID required to vote automatic voter registration vote when you get out/vote in prison
Indiana early voting with no restrictions strict photo ID requirements register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
Iowa early voting with no restrictions strict photo ID requirements register before elections some/all felons permanently disenfranchised
Kansas early voting with no restrictions strict photo ID requirements proof of citizenship/exact match neede parole/probation limitations
Kentucky early voting with approval no photo ID required register before elections some/all felons permanently disenfranchised
Louisiana early voting with no restrictions not strict photo ID required register before elections parole/probation limitations
Maine early voting with no restrictions no ID required to vote automatic voter registration vote when you get out/vote in prison
Maryland early voting with no restrictions no ID required to vote same-day registration vote when you get out/vote in prison
Massachusetts early voting with no restrictions no ID required to vote register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
Michigan early voting with no restrictions not strict photo ID required same-day registration parole/probation limitations
Minnesota early voting with no restrictions no ID required to vote same-day registration vote when you get out/vote in prison
Mississippi no early voting strict photo ID requirements register before elections some/all felons permanently disenfranchised
Missouri no early voting no photo ID required register before elections some/all felons permanently disenfranchised
Montana early voting with no restrictions strict photo ID requirements register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
Nebraska early voting with no restrictions no ID required to vote register before elections parole/probation limitations
Nevada early voting with no restrictions not strict photo ID required automatic voter registration vote when you get out/vote in prison
New Hampshire early voting with approval not strict photo ID required same-day registration vote when you get out/vote in prison
New Jersey early voting with no restrictions no ID required to vote register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
New Mexico early voting with no restrictions no photo ID required register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
New York early voting with no restrictions no ID required to vote register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
North Carolina early voting with no restrictions strict photo ID requirements register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
North Dakota early voting with no restrictions no photo ID required automatic voter registration vote when you get out/vote in prison
Ohio early voting with no restrictions strict photo ID requirements register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
Oklahoma early voting with no restrictions no photo ID required register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
Oregon early voting with no restrictions no ID required to vote automatic voter registration vote when you get out/vote in prison
Pennsylvania early voting with approval no photo ID required register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
Rhode Island early voting with approval strict photo ID requirements automatic voter registration vote when you get out/vote in prison
South Carolina early voting with approval strict photo ID requirements register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
South Dakota early voting with no restrictions strict photo ID requirements register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
Tennessee early voting with no restrictions strict photo ID requirements register before elections some/all felons permanently disenfranchised
Texas early voting with no restrictions strict photo ID requirements register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
Utah early voting with no restrictions not strict photo ID required register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
Vermont early voting with no restrictions no ID required to vote automatic voter registration vote when you get out/vote in prison
Virginia early voting with approval not strict photo ID required register before elections some/all felons permanently disenfranchised
Washington early voting with no restrictions no ID required to vote automatic voter registration vote when you get out/vote in prison
West Virginia early voting with approval no photo ID required register before elections vote when you get out/vote in prison
Wisconsin early voting with no restrictions strict photo ID requirements same-day registration vote when you get out/vote in prison
Wyoming early voting with no restrictions no ID required to vote same-day registration vote when you get out/vote in prison
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