WASHINGTON, D.C. — Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have introduced a piece of bipartisan legislation that would improve the tracking capabilities for mail-in ballot envelopes.
The Vote By Mail Tracking Act is sponsored by Reps. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Juan Ciscomani (R-Ariz.).
It is an administrative bill that would require envelopes to:
- Contain a U.S. Postal Service barcode that will enable the tracking of each ballot,
- Satisfy the Postal Service requirements for ballot envelope design and machinable letters and
- Include the Official Election Mail logo.
Critically, the bill does not require states to adopt any additional mail-in ballot practices outside of the scope of the envelope itself.
Given the split control of the U.S. House and Senate, federal voting rights legislation is often unable to go further than introduction. However, it is an opportunity for both parties to demonstrate their contrasting visions for the country’s elections.
Following the surge in mail-in voting in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, both pro-voting and anti-voting groups have taken the fight over mail-in voting to the courts. Democracy Docket is currently tracking nearly 50 ongoing lawsuits challenging various aspects of mail-in voting, including cure procedures, witness requirements, drop boxes, ballot-return deadlines and voter information requirements.