June 2, 2011
Congresswoman Susan Davis Introduces Legislation to End Absentee Ballot Restrictions
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) introduced legislation, the Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act (H.R. 2084), that would end restrictions many states impose on a person's ability to vote by absentee ballot.
Currently, 21 states restrict an eligible voter's ability to vote by mail, also known as absentee. The other states offer no-excuse absentee voting. Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) re-introduced her bill to end such restrictions and allow all eligible voters nationwide to vote by mail for any reason in federal elections.
"There's really no excuse for the government to ask for the private details of a person's life just so they can vote," said Davis. "Voters should not have to put their life on display or jump through a series of hoops just to participate in one of the most hallowed acts of a democracy – voting. And no one should be denied the chance to vote because they don't have the proper excuse. This is not only a matter of privacy but fairness. Voters in one state should not be denied a privilege that voters in other states have when voting."
If someone can't make it to the polls and wants to vote absentee, some states require a doctor's note, the details of a religious obligation, latest pregnancy status or details of a vacation destination. Attending to a sick loved one can sometimes be considered a valid reason, as long you provide the name of the person in need and the nature of their illness. Furthermore, this can all be part of the public record. Other states require a notary signature, even for students, which essentially amounts to a poll tax.
Davis's bill would eliminate these antiquated and unnecessary restrictions.
Absentee voting also provides a secure alternative for voters who have concerns about other voting mechanisms. Mail ballots offer a clear, re-countable record of voters' intentions and are not subject to computer hacking, electrical failures, and other malfunctions.