January 19, 2024

New 50-State Scorecard Highlights Historic Advancements & Stubborn Roadblocks for Pro-Voter Legislation

Report offers unique look at the nuanced policy landscape that will shape the 2024 election

For Immediate Release:

January 19, 2024



WASHINGTON — The new Election Policy Progress Reports from the Institute for Responsive Government is shining a spotlight on all of the state-by-state policies enacted in the last year that will either make it more accessible and secure to vote in 2024 – or that will inhibit access to the polls. Against the backdrop of ongoing threats to American democracy, policymakers across a number of states still advanced more pro-voter measures than at any other time in recent memory. Three states – Michigan, Minnesota, and New Mexico – received the highest grade of ‘A+’ because of sweeping, once-in-a-generation pro-voter policy victories during the last legislative session.

“State legislators secured significant victories this past year that will make it much more accessible and equitable for voters in many states to participate in our democracy,” said Sam Oliker-Friedland, executive director of the Institute for Responsive Government. “Across the country, states expanded or implemented automatic voter registration at places like the DMV and Medicaid; they returned the vote to formerly incarcerated individuals; and they committed to more robust funding for local elections. These are real and substantial policy victories that make a difference for people and help us address the larger, systemic challenges facing our democracy.”

The Election Policy Progress Reports are distinct from other voter scorecards. Instead of a total state-to-state comparison of election laws, which already exists in several formats, these reports first categorize states across three tiers based on the overall existing climate for pro-voter policy. Then, each state receives a grade that is based specifically on any legislative improvements it made or any setbacks it experienced in making elections more secure; helping election administrators do their jobs; and creating an efficient process for eligible voters over the past two years. Relevant executive and administrative actions were also considered.

“The reports are a sound roadmap for policymakers who may want to do more to advance pro-voter policies, but are in a state with historically challenging laws,” added Oliker-Friedland. “We tracked a number of states this year that, despite a distinctly bleak overall environment for pro-voter measures, did take important steps forward. Policy advancements like allocating additional funding for local election officials or rejecting efforts to leave ERIC are critical to carrying out secure elections.”

Some of the major takeaways from the report included:

  • Three states received the top rating of A+ – Michigan, Minnesota, and New Mexico. Lawmakers in Minnesota and New Mexico each passed comprehensive packages that, among other things, establish secure automatic voter registration and allow formerly incarcerated individuals to regain their vote. In Michigan, state officials moved to implement a number of pro-voter policies that Michiganders overwhelmingly backed in the “Promote the Vote” ballot initiatives in 2018 and 2022.
  • Two states received failing grades – North Carolina and South Dakota. North Carolina lawmakers, in their narrowly split legislature, twice overrode Governor Roy Cooper’s vetoes, allowing to become law measures that will curtail voter access and strip power over election boards from the governor and shift it to the heavily gerrymandered legislature. In South Dakota, lawmakers advanced a number of hostile measures – including banning drop boxes and enacting a strict 30-day residency requirement.
  • A number of states received grades that highlight just how nuanced the policy landscape is, and how often results buck traditional assumptions about red and blue states. For instance:
    • California received a C – the state failed to upgrade its automatic voter registration system to a more secure, efficient, and improved system for the third year in a row, leaving more than 4.5 million eligible voters unregistered to vote in the state. The state also once again failed to join ERIC, which would help ensure its voter rolls are accurate and up-to-date.
    • Kentucky, which sits in the lowest tier of states, received a B. Some of the biggest factors in the grade include the secretary of state’s ongoing rejections of false fraud narratives from election deniers, and the commonwealth’s ongoing participation in ERIC (despite calls from some for Kentucky to depart.)
    • South Carolina, another bottom tier state, also received a B this year. While the legislature did not pass any significant pro-voter reforms this past session, it did secure much-needed funds for local election offices.

All of the Election Policy Progress Reports are accessible on the Institute for Responsive Government’s website. To speak with Sam Oliker-Friedland or other Responsive Government experts, please contact dan@responsivegoverningaction.org.


The Institute for Responsive Government is a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to ensuring state and federal governments work effectively for the very people they serve. The Institute for Responsive Government provides data, research, and expertise to elected officials in order to find practical policy solutions that make government systems more efficient, accessible, and responsive.