Virginia House of Delegates member Paul Krizek (HD-44) has filed legislation to pre-pay postage for returning absentee ballots.
“For many citizens, emails and texts have replaced letters. Bills are paid online,” Krizek said. “Fewer people, particularly young people, keep stamps in their desk drawer. So, after they receive an absentee ballot, many need to make a special trip to buy stamps to return the ballot. Obtaining postage to return a mail-in ballot can be a barrier to voting for the homebound, elderly, those with limited access to transportation, and even to college students. This makes it difficult for them to cast their vote. Furthermore, casting your vote and exercising your civic duty should be completely free of charge. HB 220 will fix that problem.”
In the 2019 Virginia general election, 56,000 voters returned their absentee ballots by mail, among them approximately 650 voters in the 44th District. The proposal would use the U.S. Postal Service’s Business Reply Mail, so the Commonwealth would only pay for absentee ballots actually returned.
“Many students don’t keep stamps around,” observed Kiera Goddu, President of the University Democrats at the University of Virginia. “Pre-paid postage would be really helpful for students, particularly for those that do not have the transportation to access a post office.”
Virginia would join sixteen other states, plus certain military and federal agencies, that pre-pay return postage for absentee ballots.