The Future of Voting Rights – What the Voting Rights Act of 2022 Means for You

The Future of Adolescents' Right to Vote and Political Participation -  Leiden Law Blog

The Voting Rights Act of 2022 has important implications for the fight to ensure that all Americans have access to the ballot box. The law aims for two key issues: voting identification and polling places.

States have a history of exclusionary ID laws disproportionately affecting low-income voters and people of color. These laws have been driven partly by the Big Lie that voter fraud harms elections.

Voter Identification

What is the 2022 Voting Rights Act? and its provisions Voter identification laws (ID laws) are a typical tactic used to undo decades of gains in voting rights. More than 30 new voter ID laws have been passed in the US since 2020, where this trend is most pronounced.

Most of these laws require that you present a form of photo identification before you can vote at the polls unless your state provides an exemption. It can include a driver’s license, student ID, or other printed document showing your name and address.

Suppose you don’t have any of these forms of ID. In that case, you can still vote by providing an affidavit from someone else attesting that you have a legal reason for not presenting identification or by casting a provisional ballot. If you choose to do this, you have until noon ten days after the election to follow up with your county election board and either provide a form of ID meeting the requirements or affirm that one of the law’s exemptions applies to you.

In addition to stricter ID laws, many states have also enacted restrictions on voter registration and voting access. It includes limiting the number of days you can register to vote and making it harder for people convicted of crimes to restore their voting rights.

Despite these barriers, some states protect voters from fraudulent activity and fraud at the polls. For example, a Florida law was enacted in April to ensure that election supervisors clean off inactive voter lists more often and establish an office to investigate possible irregularities.

While voter identification laws have proven to protect against voter fraud, many critics argue that the restrictions have reduced participation by some voters, especially minority groups. A recent study by Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement found that the participation of voters of color has varied across different states and areas.

To counter the growing number of restrictive voting laws, many civil and voting rights organizations are working to enact strong state-level legislation in 2022. LDF, the New York Voting Rights Consortium, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, LatinoJustice, and PRLDEF are leading the charge in New York. We look forward to collaborating with authorities in other states across the nation to guarantee that everyone will be able to vote in 2022.

Voting by Mail

Voting by mail, also called absentee ballots, allows eligible voters to cast their votes without coming to the polls on Election Day. All states permit voters with a valid reason for not releasing a ballot on Election Day to obtain a ballot in advance and vote by mail or at a designated deposit site. States manage these voting choices differently.

State and local election officials use various methods to verify voter identity and eligibility before sending a ballot. These procedures include signing the applicant’s name, comparing the information submitted with a voter registration record, and ensuring that only one application per voter is sent. Additionally, all mail-in/absentee ballots must be returned to the appropriate election official in their post-election state, regardless of whether the voter chooses to return it by mail or in person at a voting location or secure drop box.

In many states, requesting a ballot by mail is relatively simple and requires no special preparation or planning. In most cases, the applicant must complete a mail-in/absentee ballot request form and sign a statement affirming their eligibility to receive a ballot.

Usually, 15 days before an election, ballots must be returned to the election officer in the county where the voter registered. If the poll is received after this deadline, a provisional vote-by-mail ballot must be issued to the applicant before they can vote at their assigned polling place on Election Day.

Those military and overseas protected voters, or members of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, and Women Veterans Association, may request an affidavit or a provisional ballot if they do not receive their say in the mail. Applicants should include their name, date of birth, and address.

Once a voter receives their ballot, they should carefully follow the voting instructions included with the vote and return it to the election official in the county where the applicant registered on time. To ensure it is tallied, the ballot must be postmarked on Election Day or earlier and received by the election official by 7:00 pm on Election Day.

Polling Places

Polling places are where voters go to cast their ballots. They are often located in public buildings such as schools, churches, sports halls, and local government offices. In some states, polling places are also allowed in private homes and businesses.

The polling place is staffed by election officials (often called “judges”) who monitor voting procedures and assist voters. They can be elected or appointed by the state or county. They may be members of the election commission, representatives of the secretary of state’s office, or other government officials.

Some polling places allow voters to bring someone else to assist them, such as a family member or friend. However, this person should not be an employee or agent of the voter’s employer or a labor union. They should also sign a form swearing that they should have told the voter how to vote or ask for documentation.

Voters with a physical or mental disability that makes it hard to stand in line should let the poll workers know when they check in so that the voting process can be modified accordingly. They may be able to provide you with a chair or other aids that will help you stay in line and vote.

Likewise, people with visual or hearing impairments can be helped by placing signs at entrances that identify accessible polling places and marking accessible parking spaces on sidewalks. It can be done by using traffic cones and portable signs that can be moved to accommodate temporary access to the polling place.

Another solution is to arrange the check-in tables and voting stations to have an accessible route for voters to go from the entrance to the polling station and back again. It may be accomplished by creating a ramp or installing a lift at the polling place, if available.

In addition, polling places should have accessible ballot drop boxes to offer an alternative to returning an absentee or mail-in ballot. These ballot drop boxes must comply with the ADA regulations and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

Voting Age

The voting age is the minimum age for a country’s citizens to cast a vote. This minimum age differs from country to country but generally falls between 16 and 25 years old.

The earliest calls to lower the voting age were made during World War II when Congress changed the minimum age for military enlistment from 21 to 18. This change launched the youth voting rights movement in the United States, and the slogan “old enough to fight, old enough to vote” became the rallying cry for that movement.

Critics of a lower voting age argue that those under 18 do not have the ability and motivation to participate effectively in elections, which can lead to an erosion of the quality of democracy. They also argue that voters under 18 may need help to develop the civic skills necessary to participate in an election, such as political knowledge and party identification.

For example, many critics in the United Kingdom point to a decline in voter turnout among younger citizens. However, research on turnout rates and the age of political maturity has found that young people can participate in elections as they become eligible.

Additionally, research shows that a person’s civic skills and knowledge of politics mature by the age of 16 or 17. It is called “cold cognition,” characterized by decision-making unhurriedly with no immediate pressure.

Despite this, many young people cannot exercise their right to vote in national and local elections because they need the necessary civic skills or knowledge of politics. Reducing the voting age would help increase the number of young people who can use their civic skills and knowledge to participate in their communities political affairs, strengthening the capacity of citizens to influence their governments.

As more young people can exercise their right to vote, more and more politicians will be forced to listen to them. It will make their voices heard in the communities they live in and lead to a more robust government that better serves the interests of its citizens.