Rep. Stanley Helps Pass Bill to Provide Voting Options Amid Pandemic
Rep. Stanley voted in favor of legislation that will allow a number of voting options, including early voting by mail, in the midst of COVID-19. The bill aims to facilitate a number of options for voters confronting health risks due to the Coronavirus. Under the provisions of the bill, voters can elect to vote-by-mail, submit an absentee ballot, vote early in-person or vote on Election Day with public health safeguards in place.
The bill allows early voting by mail application which requires the Secretary of State to mail all registered voters an application to vote early by mail in advance of the primary and general elections. It also asks voters to apply by seven days prior to the primary and general elections and allows for electronic signature and submission of applications. In regard to early voting by mail, the city or town clerk will mail an early voting by mail ballot and an envelope with return postage pre-paid to voters who apply and allows voters to return their early voting by mail ballot in the mail, secure drop box, or in person. The bill provides for absentee voting by any person taking precaution related to COVID-19 and allows electronic signature and submission of absentee voting applications.
The legislation requires the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, to promulgate emergency regulations requiring public health safeguards for in-person voting, including social distancing of voters and election officers; face coverings and personal protective equipment; frequent use of sanitizers; and sanitary use of marking pens. It also provides for seven days of in person early voting in the primary-from Saturday, August 22 to Friday, August 28-including one weekend – and 14 days of in person early voting in the general-from Saturday, October 17 to Friday, October 30-including two weekends. Voters can still cast a ballot at the polls on Election Day. In regard to local elections, the bill provides for early voting by mail for any city or town elections held at the same time as the primary or general or on or before December 31, 2020.