Voting-rights activists are hoping the hype around this year’s midterm elections will give new energy to a bill intended to make it easier to vote. The bill would mandate no-excuse absentee voting in federal elections, a provision currently allowed for voters in 30 states. Twenty others only allow absentee ballots to be cast if certain excuses are offered. “We think this is fundamentally unfair and invasive to people’s privacy,” says Deborah Vagins, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.
In Texas, work generally is not an excuse. Sick voters in Tennessee have to get a doctor’s note. Mississippi voters must make a special request for an application, and in Virginia, working applicants must disclose where and when they work. Once that’s done, the forms go the local registrar’s office for review.
Congresswoman Susan Davis argues excuse requirements do nothing to prevent fraud.
“They are really just getting in the way,” she says. “They have a real chilling effect.”