Why N.J. needs to make Vote by Mail permanent | Opinion

New Jersey — The 2020 election produced record-breaking turnout of young voters in New Jersey, making it the top state for participation among people in that age group. What was our secret? Vote by Mail.

According to a report from the National Vote at Home Institute, New Jersey achieved the highest voter turnout of eligible 18-to-34-year-olds in the 2020 election – an extraordinary 64%. This success can be attributed to Gov. Phil Murphy’s bold decision to send mail-in ballots to every active, registered voter in the state amid the pandemic.

North Carolina To Test Signature Verification for Mail Ballots in Primary Election

National Association of Counties — The National Vote at Home Institute is a nonpartisan group that works to increase voter access to voting-by-mail. The nonprofit’s executive director, Barbara Smith Warner, said the addition of signature verification in North Carolina would be “a solution in search of a problem.”

“It crosses the line from voter security to voter suppression, I would argue,” Smith Warner said. “We are big believers in signature verification as an organization, but that’s not what this is. North Carolina, they already have multiple layers of security and the idea of this giving more security is pretty head-scratching.”

The National Vote at Home Institute suggests using a variety of signatures the state has access to from the voter over time, including potentially a driver’s license or marriage certificate, as a “best practice” for signature verification, according to Smith Warner.

GOP Backs Voting by Mail, Yet Turns to Courts To Restrict It in Battleground States

Stateline —  “Americans have used mail ballots for over a hundred years because they provide a safe and convenient way to ensure the right to vote,” said Barbara Smith Warner, the executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute, which advocates for mail voting. “Research has demonstrated time and time again that voting at home increases voter participation and turnout for all, with no partisan advantage for any side.”

New York’s New Vote at Home Law Faces an Early Test

Gothamist — A mid-February special election is poised to be the first test of a new New York state law that will allow early voting by mail. According to National Vote at Home Institute Executive Director, Barbara Smith Warner, the new law is about “centering the voter” and ensuring that life, especially in mid-winter, does not prevent someone from participating in the election.

“Early Vote by Mail Act” to Enable New Yorkers to Use Mail-In Ballots for Early Voting

Norwood News — The New York State Assembly joined the Senate late last week and passed new legislation to expand early mail voting, authorizing voters to obtain early mail voting ballots through application to the board of elections, plus more mail-voting centered reform to increase access to mailed-out ballots. The legislation is now before Governor Kathy Hochul for approval.

New York’s legislation is modeled after Pennsylvania law, passed in 2019, and is expected to have similar impact in the use of mailed-out ballots. Pennsylvania saw voting at home increase from 4% in 2018 – the same rate as New York that year – to 20% in 2022.

The National Vote at Home Institute is proud to have been a member of the coalition that advocated for this policy change, and looks forward to supporting its successful implementation for the voters of New York.

Oregon Leads Nation in Voter Turnout Rates

Oregon Public Radio — Oregon currently has the highest rates of voter turnout in the entire country. Two factors political scientists point to are the state’s vote by mail system and the “motor voter” law that automatically registers people to vote when they get their driver’s license. We talk with former Oregon Secretary of State and vote-by-mail advocate Phil Keisling about the numbers and what they mean.

Vote at Home: How does Nebraska stack up?

Civic Nebraska — For decades, mail voting has been a safe, easy, and convenient way for Nebraskans to cast their ballots. Any Nebraska voter can request an absentee ballot for any reason, while 11 rural counties employ all-vote-by-mail. Mix in a once-in-a-century pandemic in 2020 that provided many voters their first vote-by-mail experience, and it’s easy to see why nearly 40 percent of Nebraskans opted to vote by mail in 2022.

Simply put, mail voting has been good for democracy by driving higher participation in our elections. You may ask: How does Nebraska compare to its sister states? According to an analysis by the National Vote At Home Institute, Nebraska’s rules, processes, and systems put our state near the middle of the pack.

HB 4 Is Good for Voters and Democracy

Santa Fe New Mexican — As former public officials committed to promoting democracy and voter access, we urge support for House Bill 4, the New Mexico Voting Rights Act. One of the many excellent features of this legislation is the improved access to ballots, particularly for rural, tribal and underrepresented communities.

Currently, New Mexico voters may vote absentee without needing to provide an excuse. However, there is an increasing movement in states with no-excuse absentee ballots to allow “single sign-up” or “permanent-absentee” provisions, whereby voters can opt in to that model for all elections, without having to request mailed ballots over and over.

Seven states provide this opt in permanent-absentee option. Eight other states plus the District of Columbia go a step further, automatically sending a vote-at-home ballot for each election to all registered voters, who can then mail or drop it off at secure locations.

Both the opt in permanent-absentee and universal vote-at-home systems are a huge convenience for voters, who don’t have to remember to sign up for absentee ballots for each election.

There is also a cost savings when public officials don’t have to process absentee ballot requests from many of the same voters, election after election, year after year.

Most importantly, improving access to ballots increases voter participation.