Voting Terms Glossary

AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION (AVR) - AVR, also referred to as the Motor Voter Law, is when a voter applies for a new driver's license or state ID; or renews their license or State ID then they are AUTOMATICALLY registered to vote unless that person OPTS OUT. Some states have extended this to include other state agencies.

SAME-DAY REGISTRATION - Allows a voter to register and vote at their polling place on the SAME DAY as the Election or Primary. Some states DO require identification, however.

ONLINE REGISTRATION - Allows a voter to register online. Most, if not ALL, states REQUIRE either your Driver's License or State ID number and/or all, or part of, your social security number. If a voter does not provide those then they will have to use a mail-in application or register in person.

PRE-REGISTER YOUTH - Voters under the age of 18 can register to vote. In California, for example, a voter can pre-register at the age of 16 then will be automatically added to the voter rolls when they turn 18. Alternatively, in Virginia the a voter can pre-register at at the age of 17 ONLY if they will  be 18 on or before the Election.

REGISTRATION PORTABILITY - Registration portability means that once an eligible citizen is on a state’s voter rolls, the voter remains registered and their records move with them as long as they reside in that state. Some states allow voting in a new polling place if a voter moves within the state, but has not updated their address. Other states will make a voter vote at the previous polling place. An absence of portability or reduced portability can suppress voting.

VOTER I.D. - Depending on the state, identification can range from a short list of acceptable photo I.D.s to a longer list of photo IDs, government issued documents, or utility bills. Despite arguments to the contrary, not everyone can easily obtain a Voter I.D. For more info on the harm that Voter ID laws cause read the TRUTH ABOUT VOTER I.D.

VOTE-BY-MAIL (VBM) - Allows a voter to receive their ballot at their residence, vote at home, and mail it in. Some states have limited VBM while others like Oregon and California (as of 2018) are entirely VBM. In most cases, a voter can choose to vote in person which generally requires the voter to surrender their VBM ballot at their polling place.

EARLY VOTING - Voters may be given the opportunity to vote early. This benefits those people who are unable to take time off from work or leave family responsibilities.

NO EXCUSE ABSENTEE VOTING - A voter can obtain an absentee ballot without providing a reason or excuse. Many states require a voter to provide an accepted excuse, like an illness or military leave, etc. No-excuse absentee voting also serves as de facto early voting and vote-by-mail.

YOUTH VOTE IN A PRIMARY - Some states allow pre-registered youths to vote in a Primary Election if they will be 18 on or before the General Election.

VOTING RIGHTS FOR FELONS - In all states, but two, felons lose the right to vote when they are convicted. Depending on the state, after fulfilling certain requirements a felon may RE-REGISTER to vote to regain their right to vote. In states like Virginia, a felon must first apply to have their rights restored THEN re-register.

VOTING WITH A DISABILITY -  How do blind people vote? Or those who not have the use of their arms? Or any other condition that might limit their ability to vote? Every state has a program in place to assist voters with disabilities.

NOTE: Voting laws are different in every state and changing all the time. If you want quick answers from an official source then we recommend you call your STATE ELECTION OFFICE.