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(J.R.H. 205)

Offered by: Representatives Mazur of South Burlington and Barbieri of Wallingford.

Whereas, voting is one of the most cherished rights of citizenship that the citizens of Vermont freely and enthusiastically exercise on town meeting day, and at primary and general elections, and

Whereas, Vermonters have long recognized the act of marking their Australian Ballots is a critical prerequisite to perpetually rotate the wheels of democracy, and

Whereas, while the citizens of Vermont have historically voted in higher percentages than their counterparts in most other states, many persons, due to illness, and important family, academic or business commitments, are unable to personally cast their ballots on election day, and

Whereas, recognizing that expanding the pool of potential absentee voters would encourage more individuals to vote, the General Assembly has lifted many of the restrictions that were once placed on exercising the vote through the absentee process, and

Whereas, while broadening access to the ballot box has served as a positive stimulus for the electoral process, it has burdened municipalities with increased postal expenses related to the mailing of absentee voting materials, and is an unfunded state mandate, and

Whereas, Vermont's decision to expand the availability of absentee ballots is hardly unique among the states, and

Whereas, the ability for voters to return an absentee ballot, postage free, would be a wise public investment in strengthening the vitality of the electoral system, both here in Vermont and nationwide, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urges the United States Congress to enact legislation directing the United States Postal Service to adopt regulations providing for the postage free mailing, by municipalities, of absentee voting-related materials to voters, and for citizens remitting their marked ballots, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to U.S. Senators George Voinovich of Ohio and Richard Durbin of Illinois, the chair and ranking minority member of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia; U.S. Representatives John M. McHugh of New York and Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania, the chair and ranking minority member of the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Postal Service; the Vermont Congressional Delegation and U.S. Postmaster William J. Henderson.