Ahead of fall election, absentee voting changes continue

August 18, 2020

Keith Goble

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Election officials around the country have not only adjusted dates for primaries, special elections, and local elections. They also are preparing for changes to how absentee voting will be conducted this November.

Continuing concerns about the coronavirus has spurred state officials to take action to temporarily allow voters to cast ballots from home instead of having to travel to the voting booth to make their voices heard.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, about two-thirds of all states offer no-excuse absentee voting. Another one-third of states offer absentee voting as long as voters provide an eligible excuse. Five states conduct voting exclusively by mail. They are: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

“All-mail elections” allow registered voters to choose to return a ballot by mail. However, voters can choose to instead access in-person voting on Election Day.

States take steps to rely on mail-in ballots for voting in the fall election.

New laws in California, Illinois, Nevada and New Mexico require local election officials to deliver mail-in ballot applications to all voters for the general election.

In Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock issued a directive giving counties the option to hold all-mail elections this fall.

Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio will send absentee ballot request forms to registered voters ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Voters will have the option of requesting a mail-in absentee ballot, early voting, or in-person voting.

The Wisconsin Election Commission voted to send absentee/mail-in ballot applications to most registered voters for the fall election.

States expand eligible excuses for absentee voting

An eligible excuse to vote absentee is a requirement in states around the country. Many of the affected states, however, are expanding their list to accommodate concerns about COVID-19.

Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Tennessee and West Virginia will allow voters to cite concerns about coronavirus as a valid excuse to vote absentee for the presidential election.

Absentee voting in Mississippi will be made available during the fall election for individuals under a physician-ordered quarantine, or for a voter caring for a dependent under quarantine due to coronavirus.

More changes

A new Missouri law allows any registered voter to cast a mail-in ballot for all 2020 elections. A notarization requirement is included. An exception to the notarization requirement is available for certain at-risk individuals.

Similarly in Rhode Island, a requirement has been waived to obtain the signatures of two witnesses or a notary for an absentee ballot to be valid.

In Minnesota, a consent decree approved by a district court will result in state election officials waiving the witness requirement for mail-in ballots for the fall election.

Registering to vote

Truckers who are registered to vote should make the effort to cast their ballots. Although primary elections typically don’t receive the same attention as the fall election, they can be just as important, if not more.

Primary ballots can include a variety of issues, and many that are of significance to the trucking industry.

Visit FightingForTruckers.com for information on steps to register to vote. A link is available at the bottom of the page.

Truckers who do not have web access – or those who have questions or need assistance – can call the OOIDA Membership Department at 800-444-5791, ext. 4906.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.