Election and voting law in the United States includes federal laws (cases, statutes, and regulations) as well as state laws (cases, statutes, and regulations), all operating under limits and powers defined in the U.S. Constitution. This guide presents researchers with resources for those cases, statutes, and regulations, as well as pending legislation and secondary sources.
This introductory section outlines general resources in federal law to introduce researchers to the framework and major issues in election and voting law. The topical pages on Campaign Finance, Voting Processes, Voting Rights, and Virginia Resources provide more detail on specific resources on specific selected topics.
The United States Constitution serves as the framework under which other election and voting laws operate.
The United States Code is a consolidation and codification of the general and permanent laws of the United States, organized by subject matter. The Code is prepared by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the United States House of Representatives (OLRC). OLRC publishes an online version of the United States Code, here: http://uscode.house.gov/.
In September of 2014, OLRC reorganized the provisions related to voting and elections, creating Title 52, Voting and Elections. For more information about this change, see the OLRC website, "Editorial Reclassification: Title 52, United States Code.".
Cases play an important role in elections and voting law at the state and federal level. You can located caselaw related to election and voting law the same places you locate other caselaw, including Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law. See selected topic pages for additional specialized caselaw resources.
Congress.gov is the official website for U.S. federal legislative information. Congress.gov coverage of bills begins in 1973, with full bill text beginning in 1993. Congress.gov categorizes legislation into policy areas and legislative subjects. For example, a search of the legislative subject "Elections, voting, political campaign regulation" will return a list of bills that can then be filtered by additional criteria. To filter by facets, such as Congress and Status of Legislation, use the tool along the left-hand side of the results' list.
Regulations, along with notices, proposed rules, and presidential documents, are published daily in the Federal Register. General and permanent rules are published annually in the Code of Federal Regulations, which is organized into titles according to subject area. The Government Publishing Office maintains the "Electronic Code of Federal Regulations," or e-CFR, an electronic version of the Code of Federal Regulations. The e-CFR is updated frequently; the currency of the information is stated clearly on the homepage. Title 11 contains regulations about federal elections.
We have access to a wide variety of resources on election and voting law through secondary sources in Lexis and Westlaw, the Law Journal Library on HeinOnline, and in print in the Law Library (see selected items, below). Boatright Library has extensive resources on political and historical aspects of voting and elections.