More than a dozen states make changes to absentee voting

April 2, 2020

Keith Goble

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Election officials around the country are not only adjusting to date changes for primaries, special elections, and local elections, they are preparing for changes to how voting will be conducted over the next few months, including new absentee voting options.

Coronavirus concerns are spurring 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, there are 26 states with no-excuse absentee voting. Another 19 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.

Nine states permit some elections to be conducted entirely by mail.

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

In addition to election date changes in recent weeks, states are announcing changes to procedures for voting.

States easing absentee voting limitations

Delaware is one state with absentee voting available, but an excuse is required. Action taken this spring at the statehouse expanded the list of excuses to apply to voters concerned about COVID-19. The change will apply for the upcoming presidential primary.

In nearby Massachusetts, absentee voting eligibility will temporarily be extended to “any person taking precaution related to COVID-19.”

Similarly in Indiana, the state has suspended the requirement for an excuse to vote absentee. Instead, all voters can cast ballots by mail for the presidential and state primaries.

Virginia and West Virginia also will allow all voters to cast absentee ballots for the state primary.

No-excuse absentee voting changes

This week, the Alaska Democratic Party is holding its presidential primary. Instead of doing in-person voting, all voting will be conducted by mail.

The Kansas Democratic Party is following suit. The party has announced its presidential primary would be done entirely by mail.

The Democratic Party of Wyoming canceled its in-person presidential caucuses scheduled for April 4. Instead, party officials extended the deadline for mail-in ballots to April 17.

In Georgia, absentee ballot request forms are to be sent to all voters for the presidential and state primary elections. Likewise, Iowa voters will receive absentee ballot request forms for the state primary.

Nebraska also will send absentee ballot applications to all voters ahead of the presidential and state primaries.

Similarly, Idaho’s primary election is set to be conducted by mail. Nevada also will offer all-mail voting for the state primary.

Counties in Montana and North Dakota have been given permission to conduct all voting for June elections by mail.

Absentee voting an option elsewhere

The NCSL reports there are 33 states with no-excuse absentee voting. Many of these states are encouraging voters to request absentee ballots.

Click here to see if your state offers absentee voting in case of a personal emergency.

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.

Pilot Flying J
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.