Voting Terms Glossary

AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION (AVR) - When a voter applies for, or renews, their state driver's license or non-driver state ID they are AUTOMATICALLY registered to vote unless that person OPTS OUT. Some states have extended AVR to include other state agencies.

ELECTION DAY REGISTRATION (aka SAME-DAY REGISTRATION) - Allows a voter to register to vote and vote at their polling place on Election Day. Some states only allow EDR at County Election Offices or during Early Voting at an Early Voting Site. Some states require voters to provide proof of residency or photo ID.

ONLINE REGISTRATION - Allows a voter to register to vote online. Most, if not ALL, states require your Driver's License or a Non-Driver State ID number and/or all, or part of, your social security number. If a voter cannot provide those then they will have to register in person at a designated state agency or mail in a paper form.

PRE-REGISTER YOUTH - Allows voters under the age of 18 to 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 Election Day.

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 Washington 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 in person. This benefits those people who are unable to take time off from work or leave family responsibilities. Some states provide in person early voting for all voters, while others only allow “in person absentee voting” for qualified absentee voter.

NO EXCUSE ABSENTEE VOTING - A voter can obtain an absentee ballot without providing a reason or excuse. Some states require a voter to provide an accepted excuse, like an illness or military leave, in order to vote absentee. No-excuse absentee voting is sometimes referred to as “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.

VOTERS WITH A FELONY - In all but two states, voters lose their right to vote when they are convicted of a felony. In most states, a voter will have their right to vote automatically restored after meeting certain criteria after which they can re-register (or register) to vote. Some states require voters to apply to have their right to vote restored.

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 differently-abled voters.

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.