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United in Security: How Every State Protects Your Vote

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In collaboration with Issue One and the R Street Institute, we detail the security and integrity protections that make American elections strong, resilient, and trustworthy in every jurisdiction.

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States have transparent, accountable elections.

Federal law requires election officials to retain ballots and other election-related material for 22 months after a federal election in case a recount or investigation needs to take place.

Every state allows members of the public or political party designees to be poll watchers and observe tabulation or other election processes.

47 states require election offices to strive for partisan balance among poll workers.

Election officials have procedures to maintain and document the location and status of ballots and voting equipment, ensuring that all elements of the election system are accounted for.

States confirm the accuracy of voting equipment.

Every state has a process for testing and approving voting equipment. Most states rely on a federal testing and certification program that has been in operation for almost 20 years.

Election officials in every state test voting equipment before every election to verify the equipment is working as intended.

Voting machines must meet federal standards for minimizing errors.

Voting systems must produce a paper record for audits and recounts.

48 states conduct a post-election audit. That audit might involve recounting a sample of ballots by hand to confirm that the outcome was correct.

95% of voters in 2024 will likely vote on a ballot with a voter-verifiable paper trail.


States ensure that only eligible votes are counted.

Voters must meet federal and state eligibility requirements in their jurisdiction in order to register to vote.

States must maintain voter registration processes that allow only eligible voters to vote, and to vote only once.

Perpetrators of election fraud and voter intimidation are investigated and prosecuted, and face jail times and hefty fines.

Sources: Federal law, U.S. Election Assistance Commission, U.S. Department of Justice, Bipartisan Policy Center, National Conference of State Legislatures, Proceedings from the 2022 International Joint Conference on Electronic Voting, Verified Voting.

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