House passes absentee ballot bill for home-bound voters; puts Supreme Court runoff election bill on hold

CHARLESTON –The House of Delegates unanimously approved a bill to give qualifying home-bound voters to absentee ballots.

Delegates Ed Evans (left) and Dave Pethtel discuss a bill.

And a bill on second reading to establish runoff elections for state Supreme Court races was tucked away for a time to allow for some further tweaking.

The absentee ballot bill is HB 2362. Delegates voted on Monday to name it the Ardala Miller Memorial Act, in memory of the mother of Delegate Rodney Miller, D-Boone, who inspired creation of the bill.

Current law allows county clerks to employ special poll workers to deliver emergency absentee ballots, upon request, to voters in hospitals or healthcare facilities within 35 miles of the county seat or in an adjacent county, or to voters in a nursing home within the county.

This bill would extend that to voters confined to a specific location within the county – typically their home – within seven days of the election. It would apply to a voter confined with an illness or injury; a physical disability; or immobility due to advanced age.

It passed 97-0 without debate and goes to the Senate.

The Supreme Court bill is HB 2008. It says that if no candidate in a Supreme Court election receives more than 40 percent of the vote in the May election, the two highest vote-getters will face off in a runoff in November.

The bill was on second reading, and subject to floor amendment, on Monday and again on Tuesday. The House Rules Committee, consisting of leaders of both parties, voted before the floor session to move it to its inactive calendar.

Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor, said after the floor session that there are questions about runoff dates for special elections and some other matters. They’re talking with county clerks and others in order to iron out the issues so they can bring it back to the floor and amend it.

If passed by both chambers, the bill would take effect in time for the 2020 election.

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