Changes continue to absentee voting

September 21, 2020

Keith Goble

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Election officials around the country continue to make revisions to absentee voting rules ahead of the November election.

Continuing concerns about COVID-19 have 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. Nearly 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 voting rule change in South Carolina

A new law in South Carolina drops the requirement this fall for an eligible excuse to be included for registered voters to cast absentee ballots.

Gov. Henry McMaster has signed into law a bill that requires absentee ballots to be submitted by Nov. 3. A requirement for a witness signature is included in the new law.

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 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, Nebraska, 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.

Additionally, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order to launch an absentee ballot portal for voters to submit a ballot request.

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 several 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, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Tennessee and West Virginia will allow voters to cite concerns about the coronavirus as a valid excuse to vote absentee for the presidential election.

Absentee voting in Mississippi also 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. Additionally, absentee ballot applications will be sent to all voters.

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 816-229-5791, ext. 4906. LL

More Land Line election coverage is available.

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.