How Will Changes to Voting Rules Affect Me?
The coronavirus pandemic is causing rapid transformation of voting systems, a cross-country patchwork of different rules.
- Voting dates and methods are determined by states individually.
- Elections present heightened challenges to voter protection
- General election on Nov. 3 will differ dramatically from how we have voted in the past.
A Washington Post analysis calculated that 30 states have changed their rules for this year’s primaries or the general election due to health concerns related to the coronavirus.
Mailing it In
The biggest change so far is the allowance for absentee voting to provide an alternative to in-person voting.
Upcoming 2020 Primary:
Connecticut (moved from April 28 to August 11)
Find changes to your state's election processes at vote.gov, where you can also sign up for updates.
Voting News by State
California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the November 3 general election to be an all-mail vote, to shore up public safety and voter access.
“It’s great for public health, it’s great for voting rights, it’s going to be great for participation because this November’s election is still slated to be the consequential election of our lifetime,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
Virginia's new rules include no-excuse absentee voting, making Election Day a state holiday and automatic voter registration for DMV customers.
Now, 37 states and the District of Columbia allow for no-excuses vote-by-mail. The National Conference of State Legislatures compiled a state-by-state summary.
What About the General Election?
While states have taken steps to alter primary dates, it is unlikely the general election on November 3 will be postponed. The general election is set by federal law; Congress would have to enact legislation to change the date.
The $2 trillion stimulus bill that became law on March 27 includes grants to states to help them prepare for the 2020 election, including:
- Increasing the ability to vote by mail
- Expanding early voting and online registration
Proposed legislation would require states to establish contingency plans for emergencies and establish an initiative to improve the safety of voters.
Sources: National Journal, Washington Post, Politico and CNN