Interest in holding mail-in elections has grown in both parties in recent weeks: Democrats in Congress and in state houses are pushing for more funding for states’ efforts to expand access to voting by mail. And senior Republican election officials in Georgia and Ohio send mail-in ballot request forms to every voter in their state before their primaries.
Supporters of postal voting point out that a handful of states, including the GOP-dominated state of Utah, already conduct their elections entirely by mail, and that a number of studies have found no evidence of widespread electoral fraud in the United States.
Here is an overview of the mail voting laws across America:
Elections by email
Five states conduct their elections entirely by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
The rules vary slightly by state, but generally: each voter receives a ballot at the address where they are registered. Those who need the ballots to be sent elsewhere – such as soldiers stationed abroad – can submit requests for postal voting to have them redirected to them.
In three other states – California, Nebraska and North Dakota – counties have the option of conducting their elections entirely by mail.
Some of California’s largest counties – including Orange County, the site of a handful of competitive congressional districts – now send ballots to every voter – though voters can also go to “centers to vote »regional to vote if they prefer.
There are potential problems with postal voting that do not exist with in-person voting: ballots can be discarded if they are not canceled or returned on time; if voters forget to sign them; or if the signature on the ballot does not match that on the voter registration.
As states increasingly turn to postal voting in the context of the coronavirus crisis, some Republicans have said they oppose such a move – particularly in Georgia.
“It will be extremely devastating for Republicans and Conservatives in Georgia,” North Georgia president, President of the House of Representatives David Ralston, a Republican, told FetchYourNews. He then stated that his concerns were specifically related to fraud.
Stacey Abrams, the Democrat who ran and lost against Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in 2018, created the voting group Fair Fight after her loss and pushed the use of postal voting not only in the primary of Georgia, but in the general elections. in November.
“We know the best solution is access to voting by mail,” said Abrams in a recent videoconference with donors. “We know it works. “
Absentee vote without excuse
Most states allow electors to request and submit postal ballots without explaining their reasoning.
Pennsylvania last year and Virginia this year became the last to give up their mandate so voters could have an excuse to request mail-in ballots.
They joined Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming, as well as Washington, DC.
Delaware lawmakers are currently considering a measure that would implement statewide postal voting options in time for the November elections.
New Hampshire’s Republican Governor Chris Sununu vetoed a bill last fall that would add his state to the ranks of those allowing all voters to vote by mail.
Some states are considering temporarily joining the ranks of absent voters without excuse to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo said state will allow absentees without vote to vote for his next primary, and Connecticut Democratic Governor Ned Lamont said this week that he was working toward the same goal . The Indiana Election Commission said all voters could vote by mail in this year’s primary.
More limited absentee vote
Eighteen states, mainly in the south and northeast, require an apology – such as disability, religious observance, the obligation to work during polling hours or to be out of town – of those who request postal ballots.
In the South, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas need excuses to vote by mail.
In the Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York require an apology.
Indiana, Missouri, and West Virginia also require that voters who request postal ballots have reasons to do so.
A major question faced by states requesting an apology for requesting postal ballots is whether the coronavirus pandemic can be considered a valid reason.
The Texas Democratic Party continued this week, party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa complaining that the Republican governor and the secretary of state did not give “concrete advice to county election officials on the whether electors can vote by mail during the coronavirus pandemic. “