These are the most difficult states to vote in

Story at a glance

  • Election Law Journal published a new iteration of its Cost of Voting Index ahead of the 2022 election cycle.

  • Since 2020, researchers found 19 states had passed at least 33 new laws that made voting more difficult.

  • New Hampshire, Mississippi and Arkansas were deemed the three states most difficult to vote in.

Midterm elections are rapidly approaching and in some parts of the country casting a ballot has become more difficult, as an increasing number of states implemented restrictive voting laws since the 2020 election cycle.

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, former President Trump stoked concerns about voter fraud and many states reacted by imposing restrictions that have resulted in making voting more difficult, while also pulling back on voting policies implemented during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new restrictions run the gamut, with the Election Law Journal finding that within one year, 19 states have passed at least 33 new laws that made voting more difficult through restrictions on same-day voter registration, requiring a full Social Security number and mandating additional documentation to register to vote beyond what’s federally required.

Michael Pomante, co-author of Election Law Journal’s Cost of Voting Index, told Changing America it comes down to the amount of time and effort that voters need to invest to cast a ballot since some state policies don’t include online voter registration, don’t offer early voting periods or only allow limited circumstances for mail-in voting.

America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.

“If states want to increase voter participation, they need to work at removing those barriers, making it easier for citizens to vote,” said Pomante.

Many of the restrictive voting policies were observed in GOP-led states — like Texas, Florida and Iowa — which Pomante said is likely because more accessible voting is perceived as bad for the Republican Party, when in actuality that isn’t true.

The Election Law Journal argued that “many of the new laws are unnecessary, lack substance and create confusion,” concluding they place cumbersome responsibilities on election workers and local election officials while also confusing voters and even discouraging voter turnout.

Here’s a look at the top five states deemed the most difficult to cast a ballot in 2022:

New Hampshire

Considered the most difficult state to vote in among all 50, according to the index, New Hampshire requires proof of identity and citizenship when registering to vote. Absentee voting is allowed but only for those who are “unable to register in person because of physical disability, religious beliefs, military service or because of temporary absence.”

Absentee ballots must be delivered in person to the city or town clerk, with no ballot drop boxes allowed.

New Hampshire also does not allow early voting, which means to cast a vote for those not eligible for an absentee ballot, those voters must show up on Election Day in-person.

Mississippi

The second most difficult state to vote in is Mississippi, where voters must register to vote 30 days prior to Election Day, the index found. The state does not permit early voting, but certain voters can vote absentee in certain instances.

A voter can only be eligible to vote absentee in Mississippi if they will be outside of their home county on Election Day, is a student, teacher or administrator whose employment necessitates an absence, is disabled or a parent, spouse or dependent of a disabled person who is hospitalized outside of their county on Election Day, is 65-years-old or older or is required to work on Election Day during polling hours.

Certain felony convictions, including murder, rape, bribery and theft, disqualify Mississippi residents from regaining their voting rights, according to the state’s constitution. However, those who have a disqualifying felony can seek a pardon from the governor or by a two-thirds vote of both state houses.

Arkansas

Deemed the third most difficult state to vote in, Arkansas requires voter registration to be completed 30 days before an election. The state does allow early voting, anywhere between seven to 15 days prior to Election Day, depending on the type of election being conducted.

Absentee voting is also allowed, but only for voters who will be “unavoidably absent” on Election Day, are physically unable to visit their polling location due to illness or disability, is a member of the armed forces or is a citizen temporarily living outside of the U.S.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin became the fourth most difficult state to vote in after it changed its voting laws to require proof of residency with their voter registration application while also effectively banning voter registration drives, according to the Cost of Voting Index.

One must also be a citizen of the U.S. and a resident in the state for at least 28 days prior to the election.

Wisconsin does allow early voting and has made absentee voting available to all voters, with no special eligibility requirements. However, in July the Wisconsin Supreme Court declared ballot drop boxes were unconstitutional, which means absentee ballots must now be returned to the clerk’s office or a designated alternative site.

Texas

Deemed the fifth most difficult state to vote in, Texas also passed a controversial voting law, SB1, which banned drive-thru voting and 24-hour voting, both initiatives introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To be eligible to vote in Texas, one must be a U.S. citizen, resident in the county in which they are registering and be at least 17 years and 10 months old. Voter registration must be completed 30 days before the election.

Early voting is permitted in Texas, as is absentee voting. However, voters are only eligible for absentee voting if they cannot make it to the polls on Election Day because they will be away from their county and during early voting, are sick or disabled, 65-years-old or older or are confined in jail.

Absentee ballot requests must also be received no later than the 11th day before the election and completed ballots must be received by an election official — curtailing the use of ballot drop boxes.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.