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Index 06

Logistical Barriers

Storming State Capitols
March 2022

Overview:

The presence or absence of basic logistics to allow fair access to the voting process influences whether voters are willing or able to cast their ballots. If adverse experiences of 2020 voters attempting to access polling sites have not been adequately addressed, states risk having fewer voters returning in 2022 to cast their ballots. While attention is increasing about the benefits of vote-by-mail and absentee ballot methods, advocates are raising alarms that people of color, Americans with disabilities, and those who rely on same-day voter registration will continue to vote-in-person and that more must be done to improve the voter experience at the polling sites.

Components for this index include having access to paid or unpaid leave to vote; finding meaningful assistance at the polling sites to address disability, mobility, literacy, and language proficiency challenges; ensuring participation of those residing in facilities or isolated communities; and accessing polling sites with functional equipment, sound processes, and adequate staff.

Observations:

In 2021, many state legislatures passed measures affecting the logistics of voting; while some states adopted laws to counter barriers, others did little or nothing to address these issues. For example, Texas limited curbside voting in 2021, which had previously helped meet the needs of elderly, pregnant, and disabled voters, while Georgia and Florida banned volunteers offering snacks and water to voters waiting in long lines at the polling sites. Factors that contribute to long voting lines include too few poll workers, problems with voting machines or scanners, and mishandling of ballots.

Overall findings:

In this index, 10 states received a low confidence rating, 30 states received a medium confidence rating, and 10 states and the District of Columbia scored a high confidence rating that their voters would receive adequate support to cast their ballots in-person. These findings suggest that states must still do more to stop the disenfranchisement and marginalization of voters in need of practical assistance to access polling sites.

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