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Federal Election Laws

There are a number of federal laws that impact elections. These laws include:

  • Voting Rights Act of 1965
    This law prohibits voting practices and procedures that discriminate based on race, color or membership in a language minority group. It also requires certain jurisdictions to provide election materials in languages other than English.

  • Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984
    This law generally requires polling places to be physically accessible to people with disabilities. If there is no accessible location, election officials must provide an alternate means of casting a ballot. It also requires registration and voting aids for disabled and elderly voters, including information by telecommunications devices for the deaf (TTYs).

  • Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) of 1986
    This law creates the right of members of the U.S. Armed Forces and overseas voters to register to vote by mail and vote by mail. The Federal Voting Assistance Program within the U.S. Department of Defense educates UOCAVA voters about voting rights and processes and designs forms specifically for these voters.

  • National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993
    This law (also known as "Motor Voter") addresses increasing opportunities to register to vote, procedures to maintain voter registration lists, and provides for fail safe voting for certain voters. This is the federal law that requires voter registration forms at MVA offices and other State agencies.

  • Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002
    This law was the U.S. Congress' response to the 2000 Presidential election and the first time that the federal government authorized federal funds for election administration. It created the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and set minimum standards for voting systems. It also required each state to adopt uniform standards on what constitutes a vote, implement provisional voting, post certain information at polling places, maintain a statewide voter registration database, and required certain individuals to show identification before voting.

  • Military and Overseas Voting Empowerment (MOVE) Act of 2009
    This law amended the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act to improve access to voting by military and overseas voters. It required states to provide electronic access to various parts of the election process, mail absentee ballots to certain voters at least 45 days before an election, and develop a free access system to inform military and overseas voters about whether their voted ballots were received and counted.