House passes Rep. Dawson’s mail ballot application bill
STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today passed legislation (2023-H 5955A) sponsored by Rep. Matthew S. Dawson (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) which would eliminate the requirement of signing with an "X" on mail ballot applications for voters who cannot sign their name due to blindness, disability, or inability to read or write.
“No one should ever be prevented from voting due to a disability and this bill will make the process of voting easier for voters who have issues preventing them from filling out a mail ballot application. It also will bring transparency to the process to ensure that voter fraud cannot be accomplished by taking advantage of these particular voters. This is a good bill that supports our state’s voters who need help acquiring their mail ballot while also protecting the integrity of our elections,” said Representative Dawson.
The bill amends the current law by allowing an individual with blindness, disability, or inability to read or write, or their assistant, to mark a box on the mail ballot application to indicate the voter cannot sign due to blindness, disability, or inability to read or write. The full name, residence address, signature, and optionally the telephone number and e-mail address, of the person who helped the voter must be included on a form provided by the Secretary of State. The representation relating to the voter's inability to sign would be made under the pains and penalties of perjury.
The legislation would also establish a three-day transmittal period after the deadline for local boards to accept mail ballot applications, if the application is delivered via the Postal Service.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration where Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence) has introduced the legislation (2023-S 0842).