Election season returns

October 2019

Keith Goble

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This fall’s elections will not generate as much attention as a year ago, when 83% of the nearly 8,000 elected officials at the state and federal levels of government were up for grabs. Neither will this year’s elections garner as much notice as the presidential election one year from now.

Voters this fall largely will make decisions on issues close to home.

In Kentucky, voters will cast ballots for governor. Louisiana and Mississippi residents can cast ballots for the governor’s seat and state legislators. New Jersey and Virginia residents will also elect state legislators.

Voters in states that do not have state offices on their ballots Nov. 5 will focus on local and county candidates and issues. Ballots in various communities throughout the country also will include unique questions that affect your trucking business – road funding, truck parking and so forth.

OOIDA has worked for the interests of all truck drivers for nearly a half century. During that time, elected officials at all levels of government have witnessed the commitment of professional drivers.

The Association offers truckers resources to make their voice heard. Included in this issue is information on registering to vote, early voting and absentee ballots.

Truckers who have not yet registered to vote or requested a ballot are encouraged to get involved. Visit FightingForTruckers.com for information on voting in your home state.

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.

It is worth the effort. Professional drivers have every incentive to use the information available to take advantage of opportunities to have a say in who’s representing them and what issues they support or oppose.

Truckers fight for action

Communicating with elected officials is a task that you cannot afford to step away from. The importance of your livelihood dictates constant vigilance of goings-on at the federal, state and local levels of government.

At the federal level, OOIDA has worked to bring truckers together to turn back over-regulation of the industry. Following the Association’s petition and grassroots outreach to change hours-of-service regulations, FMCSA published in August a notice of proposed rulemaking on hours-of-service reform that promises to give truck drivers more flexibility.

With the help of the internet, email and satellite radio, OOIDA can relay info quickly to truckers about the Association’s positions and other important issues.

Land Line Magazine produces daily news online for OOIDA’s websites. Land Line Now broadcasts on Sirius XM Road Dog Channel 146.

OOIDA’s Call to Action team is ready to alert truckers of hot-button issues being discussed in Washington, D.C., in state legislatures, and in communities throughout the country.

Team members with email will receive the most current updates on critical issues.

After receiving your alert, it is essential you contact your elected official(s), whose information will be provided; visit their office(s) for a face-to-face conversation; when possible, attend a meeting where they are present for        discussion; or submit comments.

Make your voice matter

Election Day is only a few weeks away. It is important to get registered now to ensure your voice is heard this fall. Follow these guidelines and start making a difference.

Deadline to register

Deadlines for voter registration are all over the map, but in many states you need to register at least 20 days before heading to the voting booth to fill out your ballot. If your deadline is looming or you are out of time, don’t be discouraged. Go ahead and register now so you will be ready for the presidential election cycle that begins shortly after the first of the year.

Rules for registering

For most states, you can register to vote in person or by mail. Depending on your state, you may be able to print your registration form from a website or pick one up in person from the DMV, local board of elections office, post office, library or other locations designated by state officials.

About three-fourths of all states either use or are in the process of taking advantage of the internet to simplify the voter registration process.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 13 states have yet to offer online paperless registration. The holdouts are: Arkansas, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

Oklahoma has adopted rules allowing people to register online but has not yet implemented the process. If you reside in Oklahoma or any of the states that do not offer paperless registration, in-person registration is the way to go.

Check online or call OOIDA Membership at 800-444-5791, ext. 4906, for your state’s voter registration deadline.

Who can vote?

As long as you’re 18 or older, an American citizen, and a resident of the state where you’re planning to register, you have an equal chance to decide who you want to run your country, your state, your region and your town.

Where to vote?

After you’ve sent in your registration form, your state will mail out details about your polling place. Some states will send a voter registration ID card, which you may be required to show at the polls. Other states require a photo ID when voting.

Many states also offer advance voting, voting by mail and absentee voting – making it possible for truckers to have their voices heard no matter where they happen to be on Election Day.

On the road Election day?

The often unrelenting work schedule for professional drivers is not a reason to skip Election Day and sacrifice your right to vote. You can still make your voice heard back home and help set the course on issues at the national, state and local levels of government.

All states allow advance voting. It’s a perfect setup for professional drivers. Some states allow mail-in ballots, commonly referred to as absentee ballots. Other states allow voting in person at locations leading up to Election Day. This is known as early voting. Some states even conduct certain, if not all, elections by mail. Your local elections office or secretary of state’s office should have details.

Absentee voting

There are 28 states to offer “no-excuse” absentee voting – meaning you do not have to give a reason why you want to cast an absentee ballot. Other states either allow permanent no-excuse absentee voting or allow voters to cast absentee ballots only under a limited set of circumstances.

Absentee ballots – or even permanent absentee ballots – can be requested by contacting a county clerk, county auditor, county registrar or supervisor of elections, or the board of elections – depending on the state. Phone numbers for those offices should be in the government pages of your local phone book, or you can do a search online.

Early voting

Some type of early voting is offered in 39 states. It allows voters to simply decide to vote early.

No-excuse early voting differs from absentee voting. Voters may visit an election official’s office – or in some states other satellite voting locations – and cast ballots in person.

The time periods for early voting vary by state. The average starting time for early voting is about three weeks before Election Day.

Mail voting

Colorado, Oregon and Washington run their elections entirely by mail. The process is used to send a ballot to every registered voter prior to Election Day. In addition, 21 states allow certain elections to be held by mail. Hawaii and Utah will begin holding all-mail ballot elections in 2020.

Permanent absentee ballots

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states make available permanent absentee ballots for at least certain voters. States with permanent absentee ballots available for all voters: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey and Utah.

There are 14 more states that offer permanent absentee ballots for a limited number of voters. They are: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin. LL

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.