Norm Needleman


Norm Needleman



March 23, 2022

Senator Needleman Takes Action to Ease Restrictions Against Access to Absentee Ballots

Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex), joined Senate Democrats in voting to ease restrictions against access to absentee ballots, making it easier for residents to participate in elections by that method. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, absentee ballots have provided a safe and simple way for residents concerned for their health to cast ballots; today’s vote on House Bill 5262 solidifies their options to do so.

“This bill simply makes sure more folks who have reasons to vote absentee – sickness, caregiving, working out of town on Election Day – can do so,” said Sen. Needleman. “Absentee ballots should be more accessible, and by passing this legislation, we help more folks access them.”

House Bill 5262, “An Act Revising Certain Absentee Voting Eligibility Statutes,” expands two of the six reasons why qualified voters can participate in an election via absentee ballot. Under the bill, qualified voters may vote by absentee if they are unable to appear in person because of “sickness,” instead of their own illness, and due to “physical disability,” instead of their own physical disability. The bill also allows voters to cast ballots via absentee if they are unable to appear at their polling place due to absence from the town they are registered to vote in, updating language allowing that reason only in cases where a voter is absent during all hours of voting.

The bill also modifies language to apply reasons for voting absentee to qualified voters who are unable to appear at their polling place during the day of an election, primary or referendum, expanding current language that only applies to those unable to appear during all hours of voting on that day.

The changes this legislation provides will be in place permanently.