Many States Lack Flexible Voting and Registration Policies to Address Safety Concerns of Conducting Elections During COVID-19
Aug 5, 2020
State election laws on early voting, remote voting, and voter registration could have implications for the execution of an election under conditions brought on by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. In this report, the authors summarize state election laws on early voting, remote voting, and voter registration, and they discuss the potential implications for the execution of the November 2020 general election.
Preparing for Elections During a Pandemic
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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has presented a severe threat to state election plans in 2020 for primaries and for the general election. To conduct an election during the COVID-19 pandemic, states need registration and voting options that minimize direct personal contact and that reduce crowds and common access to high-touch surfaces. Another way to think about preparedness for conducting elections during a pandemic is to consider the flexibility that state election processes afford in terms of where, when, and how voters can get registered and cast votes. Particularly valuable to flexibility in the pandemic context are options that allow for the registration and voting processes to happen remotely or in ways that reduce person-to-person contact. In this report, the authors summarize state election laws on early voting, remote voting, and voter registration and discuss the potential implications of these laws for the execution of the November 2020 general election under conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This report is part of RAND's Countering Truth Decay initiative, which is focused on restoring the role of facts, data, and analysis in U.S. political and civil discourse and the policymaking process.
Funding for RAND's Countering Truth Decay research initiative is provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from operations. RAND would like to recognize the Joel and Joanne Mogy Truth Decay Fellowship, established by the Mogys in 2020 to support research on Truth Decay, civics, and democracy. The authors drew from the Mogys' generous gift to fund this project.
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