Legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Beach (D-Camden) that would allow voters to request mail-in ballots for all future general elections or all future elections has cleared the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee.

 “The right to vote is one of the most basic principles we have in this country. We should be doing everything we can to encourage and assist people to get out and vote. This legislation can help play a part in that effort by allowing people, who might otherwise not be able to, cast their ballot and have their vote counted,” said Beach.

Under the bill, S-2756, a voter would continue to receive a mail-in ballot unless the voter fails to vote in four consecutive general elections. The county clerk would be required to send a notice to the voter to ascertain whether the voter continues to reside at the address. The voter has until the 40th day before the next general election to respond to the notice. If the voter does not respond to the notice, all future mail-in ballots would be suspended until a new application was submitted. The bill would eliminate the option to request a mail-in ballot for each election that occurs during the remainder of the calendar that the request was made.

Voting by mail is an increasingly popular practice around the United States. In Oregon and most of Washington voters are required to vote by mail and polling places have been eliminated. In addition, California and Colorado have passed laws allowing voters to become permanent absentees, similar to provision in this bill. In the California Presidential Primary in February 2008, 42 percent of voters voted by mail.

The legislation now moves to the Senate floor.