Vote by Mail Legislation Eliminates Burdens on the Right to Vote

April 2, 2008 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed strong support for H.R. 281, the “Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act,” scheduled for markup by the House Administration Committee later this morning. Sponsored by Representative Susan Davis (D-CA), H.R. 281 would ensure that all Americans have an equal opportunity to vote by mail in federal elections for any reason.

Currently, 29 states allow universal absentee voting, which permits any voter to request a mail-in ballot without providing a reason for the request. However, voters in 21 states and the District of Columbia must provide a qualifying “excuse” in order to vote by mail. This bill would give all voters the choice of voting by mail in federal elections by eliminating the unnecessary, burdensome, and often intrusive requirements that some states impose on voters requesting absentee ballots.

The following can be attributed to Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU policy counsel for civil rights and civil liberties:

“Many of us have experienced an election day where family, work, or other obligations made it difficult, if not impossible, to get to the polls. But many states go so far as to require that a voter produce a notary’s seal, supply a doctor’s note, explain a religious obligation, or detail the nature of a disability in order to get an absentee ballot. Casting a ballot in a federal election should not be more difficult for some simply because they live in one state or another. We urge the House Administration Committee to support this important legislation, which will broaden access to the electoral system for all voters.”

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To read the ACLU’s letter to Congress in support of H.R. 281, visit: /files/images/asset_upload_file456_34240.pdf

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