The Bowie City Council unanimously voted to make absentee voting open to all of the city’s registered voters at its Monday night meeting.
Officials hope the change will increase voter participation in the upcoming Nov. 5 election. In the city’s Nov. 8, 2011 election, about 4,597 of the city’s 40,372 registered voters participated, said Anne Ford, an executive office associate in the city manager’s office.
Previously, residents who wanted to vote absentee had to produce proof that they would be out of town or unable to reach the polls, said City Manager David Deutsch. But now, he said, “literally anyone who is registered can follow the procedures and vote absentee.”
About 180 voters cast absentee ballots in the 2011 election, Ford said.
Residents who want to vote absentee in the upcoming November election, where the mayor and six council seats will be up for election, will have to fill out an application available by mail or phone request, online or at the city clerk’s office by 5 p.m. Nov. 4.
Deutsch said he hopes that this update to the city code will increase voter participation in the city of Bowie.
The intent is to “encourage those folks who want to vote absentee to do so without having to produce any information regarding their whereabouts on Election Day,” he said. “Hopefully that will encourage a few more people to participate in the elections.”