Just The Facts

Impediments to U.S. Voting

A key obstacle to voting is the unnecessary complexity of the U.S. voting process.

Credit: Brian Talbot www.flickr.com

Takeaways


  • In the 2016 US federal election for president and Congress, just 55.7% of all voting-age Americans voted.
  • 4. The process to register to vote varies dramatically by US state (or even by county in some cases).

1. In the 2016 U.S. federal election for president and Congress, just 55.7% of all voting-age Americans turned out to vote.

2. This makes the United States one of the lowest-scoring countries in the OECD for electoral participation among all voting-age people.

3. Eligible citizens are not automatically (or at least uniformly) enrolled for voting at the local or national level, as is the case in many other developed countries.

4. The process to register to vote varies dramatically by U.S. state (or even by county in some cases).

5. It often involves different forms of identification, few registration locations and personnel or limited time windows to register.

6. Come election time, the actual voting locations also change frequently. That makes it hard for citizens to know where to cast their vote.

7. Early voting, absentee voting, and mail-in voting opportunities are also not consistent by state.

8. In the United States, only the small state of North Dakota allows any resident to vote without any kind of registration.

9. Several U.S. states allow registration on the day of the election, but still require a cumbersome sign-up process.

10. Oregon is the first state to use automatic enrollment (tied to the driver’s license database) with a provision to opt out from registering.

Sources: The Globalist Research Center, Pew Research Center, The Nation

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