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senate Bill S. 26

Should Voters Be Able to Cast Their Ballots by Mail in Federal Elections?

Argument in favor

Voting by mail is far more convenient than having to go wait in line at a polling place, and automatic voter registration at the DMV eliminates the hassle of having to deal with the state elections office too.

Argument opposed

Voting by mail can be relatively expensive because of the the number of ballots that have to be sent, and not everyone who goes to the DMV to update their license or registration wants to be registered to vote.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Rules and Administration
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 26?

This bill would give voters the ability to cast their ballots by mail for federal elections and allow people to automatically register to vote when obtaining their driver’s license or updating their information.

States would be required to mail ballots to registered voters at least two weeks before the election at no charge, and couldn’t place any restrictions on the right to vote by mail except for a deadline to return the ballot to state or local election officials.

Impact

People who want to vote by mail for federal elections or register to vote automatically when they got to the DMV; and state election officials and motor vehicle authorities.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 26

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), along with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) reintroduced this bill, which they first introduced in 2016, to give all American voters casting ballots in federal elections the ability to do what those in his home state are able to do — vote by mail:

“My home state of Oregon has led the nation in making voting more accessible. No one has to take time off work just to exercise his or her constitutional rights. My proposition is the rest of our country should follow Oregon’s lead and offer all voters a chance to vote by mail.”

Parts of this bill are included in the House Democrats' reform bill, H.R. 1, the For the People Act. Upon that bill's introduction, Sen. Wyden praised its inclusion of vote-by-mail:

“The House is doing the right thing by recognizing the value of vote-by-mail and the Senate should follow its lead. Last November, once again, voters across the nation faced unacceptable barriers just to have their ballots counted. This administration and special interests want to make voting harder so they can advance an anti-democratic agenda that rewards the powerful and hurts regular Americans. Our bill sweeps away artificial roadblocks to voting and makes it easier for everyone to have their voice heard in Washington, D.C.”

There are 14 cosponsors of this bill in the 116th Congress, including 13 Democrats and one Republican. In the 115th Congress, this legislation had the support of 19 cosponsors, including 18 Democrats and one Independent.


Of Note: Oregon became the first state in the U.S. to exclusively use vote by mail in 2000, following the passage of an initiative with the support of 69 percent of voters. Since then it has had among the highest voter turnout rates of all states.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Clipdude / Creative Commons)

AKA

Vote By Mail Act of 2019

Official Title

A bill to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to allow all eligible voters to vote by mail in Federal elections, to amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to provide for automatic voter registration.