Mandate to provide postage with absentee ballots heading to conference

March 3, 2020

HB 220 (Krizek) would require absentee ballots to be sent to voters with postage prepaid and is intended to respond to concerns about college students and other voters having limited access to purchase stamps.  With the significant expansion in absentee voting by mail recently authorized by the General Assembly, this requirement could potentially impose significant costs on localities.  As reported in a previous edition of Capitol Contact, the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee amended the bill to add a reenactment clause so that the bill would need to be revisited next year in order to take effect.  However, when the bill returned to the House for approval of the Senate amendment, the patron asked Delegates to reject the change, sending the bill to a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions.  The patron has expressed a willingness to secure state resources to assist with postage costs, and VACo believes that the Senate approach of revisiting the issue next year would provide more time for such assistance to be secured before requiring localities to absorb these additional costs.  It would also allow some data to be collected on the numbers of voters who cast absentee ballots by mail under the new no-excuse system so that costs could be more accurately estimated.

VACo Contact:  Katie Boyle

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