The NCSL Blog


By Amanda Zoch

“Whether healthy or sick, please don’t lick!”

promo from washington secretary of stateThat’s the message coming from the Washington secretary of state’s office in the lead-up to the state’s March 10 presidential primary. As the Evergreen State responds to the first COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., Washington voters may have one thing to be thankful for—all-mail elections.

Washington is among a growing number of states with either all-mail elections or no-excuse absentee voting. Since ballots are mailed to all registered voters, most Washington voters have already returned their ballots and will be able to avoid polling places today. For those who haven’t, they can still drop off their ballots today—just don’t lick the envelopes to seal them! By using a wet sponge or other alternatives, voters can help protect themselves and others from the virus.

There are, of course, cons to voting outside polling places—people may worry about the cost of transitioning away from a traditional election model, potentially slower election results and security for ballots that are outside the control of election officials. Still, with about two-thirds of the states either allowing all voters to vote absentee or mailing ballots to all voters, more voters may do like Washingtonians this year and vote from home.

In The Canvass, we take a closer look at some of the policy choices that shape a state’s implementation of all-mail or no-excuse absentee voting, including when to process ballots, how to confirm signatures and who should pay postage.

The newest Canvass also includes an interview with Texas Representative Stephanie Klick (R), a legislative action bulletin and election news highlights.

Read the full March issue here. Email us to subscribe.

Amanda Zoch is an NCSL legislative policy specialist and Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.