Ahead of upcoming elections, absentee voting changes continue

July 31, 2020

Keith Goble

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Election officials around the country have not only adjusted dates for primaries, special elections, and local elections, but 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 permit 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.

Absentee/mail-in voting changes for August primaries

Vermont has no-excuse absentee voting. Election officials in the state have gone a step further this summer to help ensure ballots are cast. Specifically, mail-in ballot request forms were sent to all voters ahead of the Aug. 11 state primary.

The states of Michigan and Connecticut have primaries scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 4 and Aug. 11, respectively. Mail-in ballots were sent to all voters.

In Tennessee, an eligible excuse is required to vote absentee. A court ruling has ordered the state to make absentee voting available to all voters for the Thursday, Aug. 6, state primary. First-time voters who register by mail, however, are required to cast ballots in person.

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

The expanded availability for absentee voting in Connecticut, Michigan and Tennessee will carry over to the presidential election. States elsewhere are working through similar setups for the fall.

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

Iowa, Maryland 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

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

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

In Mississippi, absentee voting 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 the coronavirus.

A new Missouri law permits any registered voter to cast absentee ballots for all 2020 elections. A notarization requirement is included. An exception to the notarization requirement is available for certain at-risk individuals.

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 816-229-5791, 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.