Podcast: Rep. Campbell Says COVID-19 Fears Driving Mail-In Voting Legislation

State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell. (Courtesy photograph by Aaron Basiliere.)

A deal was reached yesterday between leaders in the House and Senate on early voting and vote-by-mail legislation that should pave the way for a major expansion of voting options ahead of the 2020 election.

State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, who appeared recently on WHAV’s morning program, says one of the driving forces behind the bill is “safety concerns” due to the coronavirus.

“We do know that there are a number of our elders that have said that they wanted to vote, but this time they’re not going to go because they’ve seen what’s happened in other countries with people standing in line for hours. They’ve just said, ‘you have to come up with a mechanism to allow us to vote.’ We believe that a tremendous amount of work was done on this, very early on when COVID broke because we knew this was going to come and it takes a lot to get this right, and to make sure it’s a very secure way of voting,” she says.

Campbell says the measure also expands the early voting time frame if people want to physically cast ballots. This coming November election is expected to have a heavy turn-out due to the presidential contest.

A conference committee opted against a Senate plan to use the voter information guides that are sent every election by Secretary of State William Galvin to households around the state as a vehicle to deliver one of the applications.

The six members of the committee also agreed to let local clerks change the location of a polling station up to 20 days before the election, which reflects what was in the Senate version of the bill. The idea is to give election officials some flexibility to respond if there were to be an outbreak of COVID-19 at a school or in another building that doubles as a polling location.

Rep. John Lawn, the lead House negotiator on the bill, said he anticipates a vote of the full House on the final bill today.

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