Skip to main content
Related Topic: Elections

Your Guide to Understanding US Election Processes

Have questions about how U.S. elections work? NCSL has answers. Learn about this video series that answers key questions surrounding elections administration.

The Process of Ballot Duplication

Election professionals use the phrase ballot duplication to refer to a process for making sure even damaged ballots can be counted. Call it duplication, replication or even reproduction—remaking ballots guarantees that every ballot is counted.

Ballot Collection Laws

Ballot collecting is the formal phrase for what’s sometimes referred to as ballot harvesting. Specifically, ballot collecting refers to laws that permit someone other than the voter to return a voted ballot on the voter’s behalf.

Ballot Curing Provides Safeguard

Well over half the states provide ballot curing for absentee or mail ballots. This process allows voters to fix mistakes and lets election officials check up on any ballots that didn’t pass muster.

Voting With Provisional Ballots

Provisional ballots are kept sealed and separated from other ballots with voter information on the outside envelope until officials can investigate. 

The Purpose of Pre-Processing Ballots

Each state has its own law on when processing can begin. Most states, and especially those with a high volume of absentee voting, allow pre-processing to begin before Election Day.

The Roles of Poll Workers vs. Poll Watchers

It’s easy to confuse poll workers with poll watchers. Here's an explanation. 

Post-Election Audits Allow for Spot-Checks

State law determines exactly what kind of post-election audit is used well before an election takes place.

Canvassing and Certification of Ballots

In most states, a local canvassing board reviews and confirms election results.  

A Closer Look at Results Reporting

When polls close, it’s exciting to know who won and who lost. However, it takes time to count all the ballots. 

Tackling Voter ID Laws

When voters show up to vote, how do election workers know they are who they say they are? 

A Look at Voter Registration List Maintenance

Good list maintenance helps with efficiency and accuracy throughout the election process.

Loading
  • Contact NCSL

  • For more information on this topic, use this form to reach NCSL staff.

Related Resources

NCSL Election Resources

The NCSL elections team provides a variety of resources on election issues, including but not limited to 50-state surveys on state laws, legislation databases, a monthly elections newsletter, enactment summaries and other publications.

What Happens Now That Biden Is No Longer in the Race?

With the announcement that President Joe Biden has withdrawn from the presidential race, the question becomes, what happens now that he is no longer on the ballot? Strictly speaking, Biden wasn’t yet on the ballot. So, the answer from an administrative viewpoint is—not much.

State Legislatures News
Loading
  • Contact NCSL

  • For more information on this topic, use this form to reach NCSL staff.