February 16, 2019

Maryland Considers Permanent Absentee Ballots

SB 333 & HB 119 would allow Marylanders to vote absentee without having to re-register

by Chris Thomas

Photo by Zachary Young on Unsplash

Maryland may not be ready to commit to full-scale vote-by-mail system but SB 333 and its companion bill, HB 119 come very close. The bills establish a permanent absentee ballot list. Under the proposed legislation, any Maryland voter could request to be added to the list for any reason. Once added, the voter would receive ballots for all future elections by mail, fax, or online.

Removal from the absentee list is likewise straightforward. Voters who request removal from the list, fail to vote in two back-to-back general elections, or otherwise lose their franchise would no longer receive absentee ballots.

Maryland’s SB 333/HB 119 is modeled on other permanent absentee and vote-by-mail systems around the country. Similar systems typically show increased voter turnout, more competitive elections, and a better informed electorate.

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