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JUST RELEASED: New Democracy Maps

Snapshot: Democracy Ratings by State

This map shows the overall Democracy Tallies for each state, and the District of Columbia. A state’s “Democracy Tally” counts the number of laws and policies within the state that help create a healthy election system. Click on any state to view its detailed laws and state profile, or click any of the categories below to explore the maps by subject area.
United States Map
Washington New York U.S. Virgin Islands Puerto Rico Guam Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands American Samoa New Hampshire Vermont Virginia Pennsylvania New York Maine West Virginia Ohio Kentucky Indiana Michigan Illinois Wisconsin North Carolina South Carolina Tennessee Georgia Florida Mississippi Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Iowa Minnesota Oklahoma Kansas Nebraska South Dakota North Dakota Texas 33 Colorado Wyoming Montana Idaho Arizona Utah Nevada Oregon California Hawaii Alaska Massachusetts Rhode Island Connecticut New Jersey Delaware Maryland Washington D.C. New Hampshire Vermont
  • High Overall Policy Tally (4 states)
  • Medium Overall Policy Tally (17 states, + D.C.)
  • Fair Overall Policy Tally (21 states)
  • Low Overall Policy Tally (8 states)
  • Negative Overall Policy Tally (0 states)

Ratings

The Democracy Maps currently track 44 election laws, policies, and data points. Currently, states are scored on a rubric with a maximum of 32.5 points overall, with positive policies generally receiving one point (though a few very minor policies receive half a point). Conversely, some laws and policies that are designed to make elections more partisan, or to unnecessarily limit voting and civic engagement, are scored as negative.

Rating Scale

  • Negative < 0
  • Low 0 - 8
  • Fair 8.1 - 16
  • Medium 16.25 - 24
  • High 24 >

Rating Elements

Who Votes

Voter Registration Learn More
Representation & Participation Learn More

How to Vote

Voting in Person Learn More
Voting by Mail Learn More

Protecting the Vote

Election Security Learn More
Independence & Integrity Learn More
 State
Voter Registration
Representation & Participation
Voting in Person
Voting by Mail
Election Security
Independence & Integrity
1 Alabama 2.75/5 1.5/6 -2/5.5 0/5 3/6 0.5/5 5.75
2 Alaska 3/5 3/6 3.5/5.5 2.75/5 4/6 2.5/5 18.75
3 Arizona 2.25/5 1/6 2.5/5.5 3.25/5 5/6 1/5 15.00
4 Arkansas -0.25/5 1/6 0/5.5 -1.75/5 3/6 1.5/5 3.50
5 California 3.5/5 5/6 4.5/5.5 5/5 6/6 5/5 29.00
6 Colorado 4.5/5 5.5/6 5/5.5 4.5/5 6/6 3.5/5 29.00
7 Connecticut 4.25/5 3.5/6 1.5/5.5 0.75/5 3/6 2.25/5 15.25
8 Delaware 2.5/5 2/6 1.5/5.5 2.5/5 2/6 3.5/5 14.00
9 District of Columbia 5/5 3/6 1.5/5.5 2/5 4/6 3.5/5 19.00
10 Florida 2.5/5 1.5/6 1.5/5.5 2.75/5 5/6 1/5 14.25
11 Georgia 2.5/5 2/6 -1/5.5 2/5 5/6 1/5 11.50
12 Hawaii 4/5 2.5/6 4.5/5.5 5/5 5/6 3/5 24.00
13 Idaho 2.25/5 1.5/6 1/5.5 3/5 3/6 1/5 11.75
14 Illinois 4.25/5 4/6 4/5.5 2.5/5 4/6 3.5/5 22.25
15 Indiana 0.75/5 2/6 0.5/5.5 2/5 4/6 1.5/5 10.75
16 Iowa 3/5 3/6 1.5/5.5 1.5/5 4/6 1.75/5 14.75
17 Kansas 1.25/5 1.5/6 2.5/5.5 1.75/5 5/6 -0.5/5 11.50
18 Kentucky 2.25/5 0.5/6 1.5/5.5 1.75/5 5/6 0.5/5 11.50
19 Louisiana 2.5/5 2/6 2/5.5 1/5 2/6 1.5/5 11.00
20 Maine 3/5 3.5/6 2.5/5.5 2.75/5 3/6 2.5/5 17.25
21 Maryland 4.5/5 3.5/6 2/5.5 3.75/5 3/6 1.5/5 18.25
22 Massachusetts 3/5 4/6 2/5.5 2/5 5/6 2.5/5 18.50
23 Michigan 4.25/5 3.5/6 1.5/5.5 3.25/5 4/6 2.5/5 19.00
24 Minnesota 2.75/5 3/6 3/5.5 3.25/5 5/6 2.5/5 19.50
25 Mississippi 0.25/5 1/6 -1.5/5.5 -0.25/5 1/6 2/5 2.50
26 Missouri 1.5/5 2/6 1/5.5 0.5/5 2/6 3/5 10.00
27 Montana 0.75/5 3/6 3.5/5.5 2.5/5 5/6 2.5/5 17.25
28 Nebraska 1.25/5 1.5/6 3/5.5 2/5 4/6 1.5/5 13.25
29 Nevada 4/5 2/6 2.5/5.5 5/5 5/6 2.5/5 21.00
30 New Hampshire 0.25/5 3/6 1/5.5 0.25/5 2/6 1.5/5 8.00
31 New Jersey 2.5/5 4.5/6 3/5.5 2.25/5 5/6 3/5 20.25
32 New Mexico 3.75/5 2.5/6 4/5.5 3.25/5 5/6 3/5 21.50
33 New York 3/5 2.5/6 2/5.5 2.5/5 4/6 0.75/5 14.75
34 North Carolina 2/5 2.5/6 2/5.5 2/5 3/6 2.5/5 14.00
35 North Dakota 5/5 2.5/6 1.5/5.5 2/5 3/6 2.5/5 16.50
36 Ohio 1.75/5 2.5/6 1.5/5.5 1.75/5 5/6 1/5 13.50
37 Oklahoma 1/5 1/6 1/5.5 1.5/5 2/6 1.5/5 8.00
38 Oregon 3.5/5 4/6 3/5.5 5/5 6/6 3.5/5 25.00
39 Pennsylvania 2.75/5 2/6 2.5/5.5 3/5 4/6 0.5/5 14.75
40 Rhode Island 4/5 3.5/6 2/5.5 2/5 6/6 2.5/5 20.00
41 South Carolina 2.25/5 1.5/6 0/5.5 -0.25/5 2/6 3/5 8.50
42 South Dakota 0.25/5 1.5/6 3/5.5 1.25/5 3/6 2.5/5 11.50
43 Tennessee 1.25/5 0.5/6 0.5/5.5 -0.25/5 3/6 1.5/5 6.50
44 Texas 0.5/5 1/6 2.5/5.5 -0.75/5 3/6 0/5 6.25
45 Utah 4/5 3/6 1.5/5.5 4.25/5 5/6 2.75/5 20.50
46 Vermont 4.25/5 4/6 2.5/5.5 5/5 3/6 3.5/5 22.25
47 Virginia 3.5/5 2.5/6 3/5.5 2.75/5 5/6 4.25/5 21.00
48 Washington 4.5/5 6/6 4/5.5 5/5 6/6 4/5 29.50
49 West Virginia 3/5 1/6 3/5.5 1.75/5 2/6 1.5/5 12.25
50 Wisconsin 2.75/5 2.5/6 -0.5/5.5 3.75/5 4/6 1.5/5 14.00
51 Wyoming 0.25/5 0.5/6 2/5.5 2/5 1/6 1.5/5 7.25

Methodology

The Democracy Maps create a detailed roadmap of state election laws and policies and how they differ. The Democracy Maps dive deep into more than 40 aspects of state election and voting laws, making it easy to see the states that are ensuring democracy thrives and the states that are falling short. The major categories of laws covered by the policy tally include:


Across these six categories, each positive law counts as a maximum of a single point, with variations reflected by fractions of a point. A state’s Democracy Tally is reduced by a point in some areas where the state has a negative law. The current maximum Democracy Tally for a state is 32.5.

Voter Registration

Automatic Voter Registration
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Automatic voter registration is a policy that modernizes the voter registration process by automatically registering eligible voters through their interactions with state agencies, most commonly when people apply for or renew their driver’s licenses.  Automatic voter registration helps ensure that every eligible voter can conveniently register to vote, as well as strengthening the security and accuracy of our election systems.  State does not have automatic voter registration 0
State has automatic voter registration 1
Online Voter Registration
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Online voter registration is a policy that improves the voter registration process by allowing voters to fill out and submit registration forms electronically through systems set up by their state. In most states, these systems work in tandem with information from driver’s licenses or other state-issued IDs. Online voter registration can increase the convenience, accuracy, and efficiency of our election systems.  State allows online voter registration 0
State does not allow online voter registration 1
Registration Deadlines
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
While every state determines their own registration deadline, the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) (1993) does not allow states to set a deadline more than 30 days before an election. Deadlines vary from up to 30 days in some states, while other states allow registration through Election Day. Allowing Election Day registration increases access for voters and arguably boosts voter turnout. State registration deadline is between 16-30 days prior to Election Day 0
State registration deadline is between 1-15 days prior to Election Day 0.5
State allows Election Day registration 1
Membership in Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC)
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
The Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) is a non-profit organization created in 2012 to assist states in improving the accuracy of their voter rolls. ERIC helps states modernize their voter registration systems and increase efficiency and security. Member states submit their data to ERIC which then allows the states to see if voters have moved within or out of state, identify duplicate registrations and remove ineligible voters. State is not a member of ERIC 0
State is a member of ERIC 1
Negative Law: Restrictions on Voter Registration Drives
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
3rd party voter registration drives are often non-partisan, community efforts that encourage and assist people in registering to vote. While almost all states allow voter registration drives, some ban them entirely, and a number of states have implemented restrictions that operate to unduly burden these efforts. Such restrictions include requiring groups to register and or complete (often burdensome) training through the state as well as implementing deadlines which require completed applications to be returned before the general registration deadline.  State does restrict voter registration drives 0
State restricts voter registration drives -0.5
State does not allow voter registration drives -1
Voter Preregistration
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Preregistration is a policy that allows eligible people as young as 16 to sign up to be registered to vote once they turn 18. Most states that allow preregistration will add applicants to voter lists under a pending status, which is then updated to active when the voter turns 18. Preregistration increases turnout and engagement for young voters, who are historically the least likely to exercise their right to vote.  State allows preregistration only within six months or less of 18th birthday  0
State does not set specific age but allows preregistration if individual will turn 18 by the next election 0.25
State allows preregistration beginning at 17 0.5
State allows preregistration beginning at 16 1
Voter Registration Total 5

Representation & Participation

National Popular Vote Compact States
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
The National Popular Vote Compact is an agreement among states which seeks to implement a popular vote system for presidential elections—as opposed to the current Electoral College process which allows a president to be elected despite receiving less votes than his or her opponent. The Compact will take effect when joined by states representing 270 or more electoral votes. The member states would then pledge their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationwide.  State has not joined the National Popular Vote Compact 0
State has joined the National Popular Vote Compact 1
Native American Voting Protections
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Native Americans often face additional obstacles to voting, due to geographic challenges, lack of access to mail and government services, and a history of voter suppression, among other factors. A small number of states have implemented laws specifically designed to address these obstacles. State has no applicable law 0
State has enacted voting protections for Native Americans 1
Partisanship of State Primary Election Systems
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
State primary elections determine the candidates that will be on the ballot for the general election. States primary election systems vary widely, with some elections only open to voters registered with a particular party, while other states allow non-affiliated voters to participate as well. While most state primary systems are partisan, a few states have adopted nonpartisan primaries, in which voters cast a ballot in a single primary with all candidates on the same ballot. The top two or four candidates, depending on the state, then advance to the general election. State primary system is completely closed to Independent voters 0
State primary system is open to Independents 0.5
State primary system is nonpartisan 1
Voter Registration Rates
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Voter registration rate, along with turnout, is another important indicator of participation and access to elections in the states. MAP relied on research and data from the MIT Election Data + Science Lab’s Election Performance Index for this map and the information below. Please note the most current data is drawn from the 2018 midterm elections. This map will be updated as soon as data for 2020 is available. Voter registration rate in 2018 below 80% 0
Voter registration rate in 2018 above 80% 0.5
Voter registration rate in 2020 above 85% 1
Voter Turnout Percentage
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Voter turnout is an important measure of the participation in and access to elections within a given state. MAP relied on research and data from the U.S. Election Project for this map. State turnout percentage in 2020 below 66% 0
State turnout percentage in 2020 above 66% 0.5
State turnout percentage in 2020 above 73% 1
Voting Rights for Formerly Incarcerated People
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Every state has laws outlining who is eligible to vote, and almost all states restrict voting for those who are currently incarcerated for a felony offense—though a few states allow citizens to vote while incarcerated. States differ on when and how formerly incarcerated people can have their voting rights restored. Additional action is required following completion of sentence to restore voting rights 0
Voting rights are automatically restored upon release 1
Voting rights are lost until full completion of sentence, including probation and parole, then automatically restored 0.5
Voting rights are never lost 1
Representation & Participation Total 6

Voting in Person

Curbside Voting for Voters with Disabilities
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Curbside voting is a method of in-person voting where voters unable to physically enter their polling place may request that a ballot be brought outside of the polling place to an accessible location such as a vehicle. A number of states either require or allow this option to be provided to disabled voters. State does not allow curbside voting for disabled voters or has no applicable law 0
State requires or allows curbside voting for disabled voters 0.5
Election Day Holidays and Paid Time Off to Vote
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
A common barrier for voters casting their ballots in-person or returning absentee ballots is getting time away from their jobs. There is no federal law that requires voters be provided time off to cast their ballot, so that policy choice is left up to the states. Policymakers have taken two approaches to solve this issue: making Election Day a public holiday or requiring employers to provide paid time off for voting. State does not have Election Day as a public holiday and does not require employers to provide paid time off to vote 0
State has Election Day as a public holiday OR requires employers to provide paid time off to vote 0.5
State has Election Day as a public holiday AND requires employers to provide paid time off to vote 1
Adequate Early Voting Period
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Almost all states offer some form of early voting, but the length of the early voting period varies by state. Our scoring includes states that offer “in-person absentee voting,” which is a process by which a voter completes an absentee ballot at a polling place. States that offer in-person absentee voting but require an excuse to vote absentee have been scored 0. Hours and locations may vary by county. These laws are applicable to general elections only. State does not offer early voting or requires an excuse to vote early 0
State early voting period is less than 7 days 0.5
State early voting period is more than 7 days 1
Negative Law: Voting Wait Time and Line Length
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Following the 2012 presidential election, where many voters reported long wait times to vote, President Obama created a bipartisan commission to study problems with polling place wait times. While wait times have improved in many jurisdictions since that time, some voters still face unreasonable delays to cast their vote. MAP relied on research and data from the MIT Election Data + Science Lab’s Election Performance Index for this map and the information below. Please note the most current data is drawn from the 2018 midterm elections which generally have much shorter wait times, meaning a 7-minute wait time in the midterms could be a much longer wait time in a general election. The map will be updates as soon as the 2020 data is available.   Average voting wait time in 2018 over 6 minutes -1
Average voting wait time in 2018 under 6 minutes 0
Provisional Ballot Availability & Counting Procedures
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Provisional ballots are a backup voting method intended to allow voters who cannot establish their eligibility at the polling place to cast their ballot and have it counted. Provisional ballots are required under the federal Help America Vote Act passed in 2002. Certain states were initially exempted from HAVA’s requirements, and of those states, Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and North Dakota currently do not issue provisional ballots. This map tracks state policies on how provisional ballots are counted when a voter casts their ballot in the wrong precinct. Some states will partially count the votes cast on a ballot for statewide offices, while other states will fully count all votes. State does not count provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct or does not issue provisional ballots 0
State partially counts provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct (votes are counted for races in which the voter would have been eligible to cast a ballot for in their correct precinct) 0.5
State fully counts provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct 1
Availability of Vote Centers (county wide polling places)
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Vote centers are an alternative to the traditional precinct-based polling place model which allows voters to cast their ballot anywhere in the county in which they are eligible. Some states require vote centers while others allow counties the choice of whether to utilize them. In addition to convenience, vote centers can reduce costs and potentially increase turnout.  These laws apply to Election Day voting for general elections only. Other states may allow vote centers during early voting or smaller elections. State does not allow vote centers or has no applicable law 0
State requires or allows the use of vote centers 1
Voter Identification Requirements for In-Person Voting
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
In a majority of states, voters show some form of identification when casting their ballot in-person. States that do not require some form of ID typically ask for a signature or other identifying information to confirm the voter’s eligibility. Our scoring gives negative points to states that have unnecessarily strict identification requirements or procedures in place that create barriers for eligible voters who may not be able to obtain a specific form of required ID. These overly strict procedures usually require very limited forms of ID and/or burdensome additional steps to be taken by the voter after Election Day to ensure their vote is counted. These laws do not apply to mail/absentee voting, or first-time voters who did not provide ID when registering to vote by mail. For more information please contact your local election official. Photo ID required and additional steps required for voter to cast a ballot if voter does not have required ID -1
Non-photo ID required, and additional steps required for voter to cast a ballot if voter does not have required ID  -0.5
Photo ID requested but no additional steps required for voter to cast a ballot if voter does not have requested ID 0.5
Non-photo ID or other identifying information requested, but no additional steps required for voter to cast a ballot if voter does not have requested ID 1
Voting in Person Total 5.5

Voting by Mail

Availability of No-Excuse Absentee Voting
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Absentee voting is an option for voters to request to cast their ballot without going to a traditional polling place, in most cases through the mail. States differ in the requirements to qualify to vote absentee, with some states allowing any voter to do so and others requiring an excuse, such as a medical emergency. States that conduct all-mail elections, where every eligible voter is mailed a ballot, are categorized here as no-excuse absentee states State requires an excuse to vote absentee 0
State does not require an excuse to vote absentee 1
All-Mail Voting States
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
A small number of states conduct all-mail elections, where every eligible voter is mailed a ballot without having to request one. Ballots are returned through the mail or to secure ballot drop boxes or election offices. Voters who wish to do so may still cast their ballot in-person at a polling place. All-mail elections allow voters more options to cast their ballot and may increase turnout as well as lower election administration costs. State does not conduct all-mail elections 0
State conducts all-mail elections 1
Negative Law: Added Requirements to Return Absentee Ballots
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
In most states, when a voter casts their absentee ballot, they can simply return the ballot through the mail or in person at a drop box or election office. However, some steps impose additional required steps that can create barriers to voters casting their ballot. These additional steps usually consist of requiring a notary or witness signature or requiring a photocopy of acceptable identification State requires photocopy of ID or notary signature to return absentee/mail ballots -0.5
State requires witness signature(s) to return absentee/mail ballots -0.25
State does not require additional steps to return absentee/mail ballots 0
Negative Law: Third Party Ballot Collection Policies
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Third party ballot collection, which is also referred to negatively as “ballot harvesting,” refers to a voter allowing another individual to return their completed ballot. MAP has analyzed each state law to determine whether a given state’s restrictions on ballot collection are overly burdensome to voters. Restrictions on ballot collection can disproportionately affect Native voters, disabled voters, and other voters in remote locations. Factors considered in our scoring include: 1) Who can collect a ballot; 2) How many ballots can be collected; 3) In what circumstances ballot collection is allowed; 4) Whether compensation is prohibited for ballot collection; 5) Time limits in which ballots must be returned; 6) Criminal penalties associated with ballot collection; and 7) Other restrictions such as requiring notarization. State only allows the voter to return absentee or mail ballot -0.5
State overly restricts third party ballot collection -0.25
State does not overly restrict third party ballot collection or has no restrictions 0
Ballot Drop Box Policies & Availability
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
In addition to returning absentee or mail ballots through the postal service, many states offer voters the option of returning their ballot to a drop box provided by election authorities. States take a variety of policy approaches to ballot drop boxes, with some states requiring they be accessible statewide, while other states limit, restrict, or even ban the option. MAP defines “accessible” drop boxes as those available 24 hours per day, not required to be staffed, and not limited in number. State bans drop boxes -0.5
State has no applicable law or drop boxes are not used 0
Drop boxes are required or allowed to be used statewide but are limited or restricted in number or availability 0.25
Drop boxes are required or allowed to be used statewide and are broadly accessible 0.5
Mail Ballot Receipt Deadlines
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Most states require voters returning absentee or mail ballots to ensure their ballots are received by the appropriate authority by Election Day. A number of states also ballots to be received a certain number of days after Election Day if the ballot envelope is postmarked on or before Election Day. Two states, Arkansas and Louisiana, require absentee ballots to be received prior to Election Day. Mail ballot receipt deadline is prior to Election Day 0
Mail ballot receipt deadline is on or after Election Day 0.5
Prepaid Ballot Postage
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Oftentimes voters that utilize absentee or mail ballots return those ballots through the postal system. States vary in their policies regarding return postage for those ballots, with some states providing prepaid return postage envelopes so voters don’t need to pay for postage themselves. State does not provide pre-paid return postage for mail ballots 0
State provides pre-paid return postage for mail ballots 0.5
Online Absentee Ballot Application Availability
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Similar to online voter registration, a number of states have recently enacted policies that allow voters to request absentee ballots through an online system. This policy gives voters additional options outside of mailing or submitting by hand paper application forms. These state websites also often allow voters to track their ballots once submitted. State does not allow voters to apply for absentee ballots online 0
State allows voters to apply for absentee ballots online 1
Permanent Absentee Voter List Availability
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
In addition to policies governing which voters qualify for absentee ballots, some states have implemented options for voters to sign up to be placed on a list to permanently receive absentee ballots each election. States differ on whether all voters or only certain voters are eligible for this option, and other states allow annual or bi-annual sign ups. In addition, certain states will send applications rather than actual ballots. Following the 2020 election, a small number of states have implemented bans on the unsolicited distribution of absentee ballots or applications. States with all-mail elections have been scored as having a permanent absentee list. State bans unsolicited distribution of absentee applications or ballots -0.5
State has no applicable law 0
State allows some or all voters to sign up for annual or biannual list to receive ballots OR a permanent list to receive applications for absentee ballots 0.25
State allows some or all voters to sign up for permanent list to receive absentee ballots 0.5
Voting by Mail Total 5

Election Security

Ballot & Signature Cure Availability (Opportunity for Voter to Correct Errors)
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Many states verify absentee and mail ballots by examining the voter’s signature on the ballot envelope, and voters sometimes make errors or neglect to sign the envelopes. Some states have implemented policies that require the voter be contacted and allowed to correct these mistakes and have their ballot counted once their identity is confirmed. State does not require that voters be allowed to correct signature discrepancies or other errors with absentee/mail ballots 0
State requires that voters be allowed to correct signature discrepancies or other errors with absentee/mail ballots 1
Ballot Tracking for Mail Voting
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
In addition to offering the option for voters to apply for absentee ballots online, many states also allow voters to track those ballots online as well. Voters can see where their ballot is in the process and be confident their ballot is secure and will be counted. State does not have ballot tracking available for all voters statewide 0
State has ballot tracking available for all voters statewide 1
Absentee/Mail Ballot Verification
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
States use a variety of methods to verify that absentee and mail ballots were returned by the correct voter. Many states conduct rigorous signature verification processes or match identifying information such as driver’s license numbers, while some states only confirm the ballot is signed or the voter has affirmed their identity. State does not require signature verification or use other identifying information to verify absentee/mail ballots 0
State requires signature verification or uses other identifying information to verify absentee/mail ballots 1
Security of Voting Machines (Hand Marked Paper Ballots)
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
States vary widely in the types of voting machines used for in-person voting. The most secure systems use paper ballots that allow the voter to verify their choices. MAP relied on research and data from Verified Voting for this map and the information below related to voting machines. States with secure voting machines are defined for our scoring as systems utilizing hand marked paper ballots for most voters. States using Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) for all voters, hybrid BMD/tabulators, or Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Systems are defined as not secure. “Majority of voters” for our scoring is defined as over 50% of registered voters within a state living in a jurisdiction that uses secure voting machines. Majority of voters in the state cannot use secure voting machines 0
Majority of voters in the state can use secure voting machines 1
Post-Election Audits Required
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Similar in concept to an independent audit of financial statements, post-election audits are a nonpartisan process that allows states to verify the accuracy and performance of voting equipment and vote counting machines. In effect, a post-election audit is a partial recount of results, checking random samples of paper ballots or records against the results produced by the voting system, to verify that the voting system accurately recorded and counted the votes. While the majority of states require some form of a post-election audit, not all states have such processes in place. Properly conducted, nonpartisan audits provide public confidence in election results and can also act as a safeguard against hacking and foreign interference. Note: In 2020 and 2021, partisan officials hired unqualified individuals to conduct improper ballot reviews in states like Arizona in an effort to undermine trust in state voting systems and election officials. These efforts, which compromised the integrity of both ballots and voting machines, should not be characterized as audits, as they were designed and undertaken for illegitimate purposes. State does not require a post-election audit 0
State requires some form of post-election audit 1
Risk-Limiting Audits
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Risk Limiting audits are a form of post-election audits that use statistical methods to analyze random samples of ballots and verify the accuracy of election results. In a risk limiting audit, the size of the random ballot sample is increased until there is statistical and objective confidence in the election results. Note: In 2020 and 2021, partisan officials hired unqualified individuals to conduct improper ballot reviews in states like Arizona in an effort to undermine trust in state voting systems and election officials. These efforts, which compromised the integrity of both ballots and voting machines, should not be characterized as audits, as they were designed and undertaken for illegitimate purposes. State does not conduct risk-limiting audits 0
State conducts risk-limiting audits 1
Election Security Total 6

Independence & Integrity

Negative Law: Election Officials Face Threats of Undue Criminal Penalties/Fines
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Despite the challenges of the COVID pandemic, the 2020 election was conducted safely and securely, and also saw record turnout—thanks in large part to the work of nonpartisan election officials. Despite this success, in 2021 some state legislatures enacted new harsh criminal penalties that threaten election officials with felony charges and heavy fines for minor technical infractions—increasing the potential for targeted intimidation and partisan abuse of election officials.    State has enacted law(s) imposing undue criminal penalties to intimidate election officials -1.0
State has no applicable law 0
Negative Law: State Legislature Interference in Elections
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Following the 2020 election, partisan actors sought to undermine the will of the voters and pursue a strategy to overturn election results in several states. In 2021, some state legislatures enacted laws that increase the danger of election subversion by giving the legislatures more power to interfere in election administration.  State legislature has enacted law(s) that allow it to seize power over election administration -1
State has no applicable law 0
Efficient Absentee/Mail Ballot Processing
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
The 2020 election saw a large increase in voters choosing to utilize absentee or mail ballots rather than traditional in-person voting. This increase created logistical issues for election jurisdictions in the ballot counting process, which in turn caused delayed results in some states. One policy states can use to help lessen these delays is allowing absentee and mail ballots to be processed prior to Election Day. This processing does not involve tallying or releasing results ahead of Election Day, but rather taking steps such as verifying voter signatures and opening ballot envelopes that allow counting to be done more quickly. State does not require or allow absentee/mail ballot processing to begin prior to Election Day 0
State requires or allows absentee/mail ballot processing to begin prior to Election Day 1
Guns in Polling Places
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
The 2020 election cycle saw an alarming increase in reports of intimidation against voters and election officials. Currently, no federal law prohibits the possession of firearms in polling places, and therefore this policy choice is left to the states. Unfortunately, the majority of states have no clear prohibition on bringing guns into polling places.    State has no clear prohibition on possession of guns in polling places 0
State has a clear prohibition on possession of guns in polling places 0.5
State Level Voting Rights Acts
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
In the absence of the preclearance requirements struck from the federal Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court in 2013, a small number of states have enacted state-level voting rights acts which seek to achieve similar goals to the federal law. These policies work by requiring local jurisdictions to receive permission from state authorities before changing voting procedures, and by prohibiting racial discrimination in election administration. State has no applicable law 0
State has enacted a state level voting rights act 1
"Voter Intent" Laws to Standardize Ballot Interpretation
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
Almost every state has some form of a “voter intent” law or policy, which operates to guide election officials in determining a voter’s choices on their ballot.  These policies help in situations where the voter’s marks on a ballot are unclear or there are stray markings, and allow voter’s ballots to be counted rather than disqualified State does not have a voter intent law or policy 0
State has a clear voter intent law or policy 0.5
Independence of State Congressional Redistricting
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
The increasing prevalence of partisan gerrymandering has led to a landscape of legislative maps where many lawmakers choose their voters, rather than the voter choosing their lawmaker as intended. Some states have enacted policies to prevent gerrymandering by requiring legislative maps to be drawn by independent commissions rather than the legislatures themselves. This map tracks policies that govern congressional redistricting processes within the states. State legislature draws congressional maps 0
State has an advisory commission for congressional redistricting process 0.25
State has a political appointee commission for congressional redistricting process 0.5
State has a hybrid citizen/legislative commission for congressional redistricting process 0.75
State has an independent commission for congressional redistricting process 1
Nonpartisan Election Observation Policies
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
During the 2020 election, partisan poll watchers and challengers within the states caused problems by intimidating voters and in some cases threatening to disrupt election processes. While most states allow the use of partisan poll watchers, a number of states also have policies that allow nonpartisan election observers such as academics or the media to witness various parts of the state’s election processes. These policies promote election integrity while also avoiding the risk of voter intimidation that can sometimes result from the use of partisan poll watchers.  State does not explicitly allow nonpartisan observers access to some or all parts of election process 0
State allows nonpartisan observers access to some or all parts of election process 1
Negative Law: Bans on Private Funding of Election Offices
Definition Level of State Law Corresponding
Point Value
During the 2020 election cycle, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, private philanthropists recognized a need for additional funding for election offices. These grants were available to any election jurisdiction, and over 2500 individual offices received additional funding to increase their staffing, training, and available equipment and conduct safe elections despite COVID-19. In 2021, several Republican states have enacted bans on these types of grants, while not recognizing or addressing the gaps in funding that led to the need for the grants in 2020 State bans private grant funding for election administration -1
0
Independence & Integrity Total 5


Data current as of 10/29/2021
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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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