We Need National Standards for Voting Rules. Here’s Why.

People voting at rows of voting booths in a school gym.
People cast their ballots at a polling place on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Photo by Suzannah Hoover

Throughout our history, we have fought to ensure more Americans have our right to vote honored and that every American can cast our vote and have it counted. 

But today, a handful of extremist politicians are working to put up barriers to silence our voices based on what we look like or where we live. Many have already done so. 

To protect Americans’ freedom to vote nationwide, we need to enact national standards for voting to ensure all of us have a say in key decisions like health care and bolstering our economy. 

What’s the problem? 

Right now, our ability to exercise our freedom to vote can vary widely and inequitably depending on what we look like or where we live. This is unacceptable. 

This inequity is highly pronounced at the state level. In some states, elections are accessible, and voters can cast their ballots and make their voices heard without experiencing many barriers. 

However, in many states, the opposite is the case: voters experience unnecessary, deliberate and restrictive barriers, and these barriers disproportionately—and often intentionally—impact voters of color the most. 

We can fix it, but we must act. 

No matter our race, background or zip code most of us believe that for democracy to work for all of us, it must include us all. Most of us believe that voters should pick our leaders—our leaders do not get to pick their voters. 

National standards for voting can ensure safe and accessible elections for all, no matter what we look like or where we live. 

National standards should promote pro-voter policies that include Americans regardless of political persuasion. Voters in every state should be able to vote early, vote by mail and register to vote without barriers.  

When voters vote by mail, they should be able to track their ballot, and if something is wrong, they should be notified and have the opportunity to correct any errors, not just have their ballot thrown away. 

National standards should also protect voters from anti-voter efforts. Government officials shouldn’t be able to delete voters from voting rolls just because they missed a recent election. Politicians shouldn’t be able to reduce the number of locations where people cast their ballots in a way that creates inequities depending on where a voter lives. 

We have no choice but to protect voters. 

Reforms like those included in the For the People Act, H.R. 1/S. 1, would help protect the freedom to vote. Failure is not an option; if we do not create national standards for voting, extremist politicians will continue to create deliberate barriers that will restrict Americans’ ability to exercise their freedoms and participate in and affect the democratic process. 

To move forward together, we must ensure that Americans can cast our ballots, so we can elect leaders who govern in our interests and make the promise of our democracy real for us all. 

Bryan is an executive communications strategist at CLC.
Our freedom to vote is being attacked in states across the country