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What are the federal regulations on elections?

Federal regulations on elections are usually meant to ensure that discriminatory practices at the polls do not take place. The federal government also sets provisions for how political campaigns are financed.

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Federal regulations relating to elections have changed over time. This is still an evolving legal field. The basis of most federal election regulations is tied to Article 1 of the Constitution. The Constitution clearly leaves it up to the individual states to regulate elections, even federal elections. Therefore, elections vary...

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Federal regulations relating to elections have changed over time. This is still an evolving legal field. The basis of most federal election regulations is tied to Article 1 of the Constitution. The Constitution clearly leaves it up to the individual states to regulate elections, even federal elections. Therefore, elections vary from state to state and the role of the federal government is actually quite limited. There have been constitutional amendments, such as the Fifteenth (suffrage for Black men), the Nineteenth (suffrage for women), the Twenty-fourth (elimination of poll taxes), and the Twenty-sixth Amendment (setting voter age at 18).

Where the federal government comes in often centers on making sure that states do not practice voter discrimination in violation of the amendments listed above. This is usually enforced by the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). The various civil rights acts and the Voter Rights Act of 1965 put in place specific provisions to see that all eligible voters can not be discriminated against at the polls. The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 requires polling places to be accessible to any voter regardless of disabilities. In 2002, the Help America Vote Act was passed to help states create voter materials and comply with federal guidelines and regulations.

There are also federal regulations relating to election financing. The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 mandates that candidates for federal offices must disclose where campaign money comes from and how it is spent. There are also federal regulations defining what types of organizations can contribute to a political campaign.

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