Politics2020 Election


Vote Smarter 2020: Why Are Voting Laws Different In Each State?

Newsy's Vote Smarter 2020 aims to provide you with all the information you'll need to safely and successfully cast your ballot this year.
Posted at 3:24 PM, Oct 16, 2020

Why are voting laws different in each state?

"We have federalism and federalism is a beautiful thing. And it means that you have 50 different election systems across the country," said Lonna Atkeson, the director of the Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy at the University of New Mexico.

"Our founders could not agree on that division of power between what the federal government can do, and what states could do, voting becomes one of the key areas where states retain their power," said Khalilah Brown-Dean, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science and Senior Director for Inclusive Excellence at Quinnipiac University.

The variety of election laws across the country come with both positives and negatives. 

"The good things is it makes it harder for outside forces to break into our election systems because they are so local and independent. But on the bad side, it means that every state and in some cases, jurisdictions within states run things quite differently," said Atkeson.

And it's up to voters to make sure they're familiar with their local election rules. 

"The good news is there are an almost infinite number of places online to go and figure it out," said David Hawkings, the editor in chief of The Fulcrum.