A set of election reform bills were unanimously approved by the State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee today, potentially clearing the way for universal prepaid postage on mail-in ballots and other changes to the state’s elections administration.
The two most notable bills both regarded postage on mail-in ballots: one to require mail-in ballot applications to come with prepaid postage, and another to do the same for the ballot envelopes themselves. Some counties have already implemented prepaid postage for their elections, but the policy is not uniform across the state.
“Fundamentally, there should be no cost associated with casting a ballot, whether a voter chooses to vote in-person or by mail,” Philip Hensley of the League of Women Voters said in support of the bills. “Any financial barrier to voting violates that basic fundamental principle.”
Both bills previously cleared an Assembly committee last month, also unanimously, so they should be set to pass the full legislature sometime soon.
The Senate committee also cleared two other bills regarding elections; one would require counties to provide mail-in ballot applications for future elections at polling places on Election Day, while the other moves various election deadlines to smooth out some issues caused by previous legislation. A third bill to standardize emergency and provisional ballots was held for now.
Finally, the committee approved a resolution urging the federal government to make Election Day a holiday. Such a proposal has been criticized by Republicans in D.C., but today’s resolution drew support from both Republican state senators on the committee.