Democracy Explained

Democracy is complicated, but we’ve got you covered. Use the drop-down menu to sort our Explainers by topic.

In-Person Voting Explained

Whether you’re voting for the first time or have been voting for decades, it’s important to know what is and isn’t allowed at your polling place. Learn about some of the key dos and don’ts before you head out to vote.

Keep Tabs on Your Mail-in Ballot

More people are voting by mail in this election than ever before. To help give voters peace of mind, 45 states and the District of Columbia allow you to track the progress of your ballot. 

How To Correct a Mistake on Your Ballot

While signature matching laws and other forms of discarding eligible ballots need to be reformed, many states provide a way for voters to correct their ballot and still have it count. This is called the cure process.

What’s a Naked Ballot?

“Naked ballots” have garnered quite a bit of attention because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently declared that ballots returned without a secrecy envelope are invalid, and therefore counties will reject them.

Handed a Provisional Ballot? Know What It Means

You arrive at the polls and line up to vote, but when you check in the election official hands you something called a “provisional ballot”—or in some states, a “challenge ballot” or “affidavit ballot.” What’s the deal?

What Does Voter Suppression Look Like?

Voter suppression efforts are aimed at making it too difficult, too confusing, or too risky to vote. That is why it’s important to arm yourself with information about voting and make a plan on how you will vote early.

Third-Party Ballot Collection Explained

Ballot collection is a safe practice that does not require voters to have their ballots collected, but simply provides voters with the option to receive assistance if they wish, and choose someone they trust to submit their ballots.

Mailing In Your Vote: Important Dates

Voters in California and Michigan mail their ballots three days before Election Day. Each ballot is postmarked three days before Election Day and arrives the day after Election Day. Yet, only one ballot counts. Why?

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