Your Votes, Your Issues

If you want your voice heard in Washington, D.C., there is no stronger way than casting a ballot in the Nov. 2 general election. And with so many important issues affecting the trucking industry, this year’s election carries greater weight.

“Lawmakers can track who votes,” says Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “We want truckers to be full participants. Then you can ask for accountability and ask for what you want.”

Bill McCarthy, an owner-operator from Claremore, Okla., leased to Interstate Express, wants lower fuel prices, a fuel surcharge and a revised hours-of-service rule. “I’m voting for Bush because Kerry is a tax-and-spend Democrat, and he’s not going to do anything to lower fuel prices,” McCarthy says.

Energy policy rarely takes center stage in a presidential race, but amid such high prices for diesel as well as gasoline, owner-operators aren’t the only voters feeling pain at the pump. President Bush and Sen. John Kerry have developed plans to reduce Americans’ reliance on Middle East oil, but it’s up to voters to decide which plan would be more effective.

Bush’s plan seeks to increase domestic oil and gas production and supports drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The President also proposes billions of dollars in tax incentives to accelerate the development of hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles.

Kerry’s plan relies on conservation and efficiency measures to cut consumption. He proposes $10 billion in incentives to encourage production and purchase of more fuel-efficient vehicles. The senator also wants to stop pumping oil into the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve until prices fall. He opposes Arctic drilling.

Such differences between the presidential candidates mean little to Web Jamison, an owner-operator from Atlanta. He says that although he plans to vote for Kerry, he doesn’t believe either candidate will benefit the trucking industry. “It seems like everyone is coming down so hard on the truckers right now,” he says.

In recent years, Congress has kicked around a bill, strongly lobbied for by OOIDA, that would impose a mandatory diesel fuel surcharge, but it has never come very close to passage. In its proposed form this year, it would also require that the entire surcharge be passed to the party that buys the fuel, which would be a big benefit to leased and independent owner-operators.

The fate of such legislation could be affected by this year’s voting because the majority party in the Senate and the House determines committee control, including the Transportation Committees.

“These are the people who have a direct effect on taxes that affect the trucking industry, tolls, highway spending in a particular state or bottlenecks and new roads,” says Mike Russell, vice president of public affairs for the American Trucking Associations.

Even those who don’t serve on a Transportation Committee affect trucking through their votes. Spencer suggests, for example, contacting the transportation staff person in your lawmaker’s office to ask where he or she stands on language in the Highway Reauthorization Bill that would allow for tolls on interstate highways.

“If the lawmaker is on the wrong side of that issue, that may be something you can consider in November,” he says.

House and Senate representatives have been working to finalize the reauthorization bill for months. Section 1609 of the Senate version of the bill, supported by the Bush administration, allows states to begin collecting tolls on interstate highways. OOIDA and ATA oppose all new highway tolls except those proposed in Section 1603 (the “Kennedy Amendment”) of the House bill. The amendment provides only for tolls that are voluntary, that may be used only to fund construction of new highway lanes and that will expire after the construction.

In June the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously agreed to overturn a lower court ruling that had required the U.S. Department of Transportation to undertake an environmental impact study under the Clean Air Act before opening the U.S.-Mexico border under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The high court ruled against labor and environmental organizations that fought for nearly a decade against the expansion of Mexican trucking in the U.S. due to concerns over increased air pollution and road safety.

Under NAFTA, the United States and Mexico agreed to grant mutual trucking access on a limited basis beginning in 1995. This access was to be expanded from border zones to all states by Jan. 1, 2000. However, the U.S. kept its borders closed to Mexican trucks because of environmental concerns before the courts.

But then President Bush signed an order to open the Mexican border. The next administration likely will have to address the controversial NAFTA issue in the coming year.

As of July 5, 82 percent of contributions from trucking industry political action committees went to Republican candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Such PACs include OOIDA, 57 percent of whose contributions supported Republican candidates, and ATA, 82 percent of whose contributions supported Republican candidates. ATA contributed $4,500 to the Bush campaign.


State-By-State Voter Information
The deadline to register to vote and absentee ballot rules in the 2004 General Election vary by state. Registration applications may be obtained from either local election officials in your home county or city or through registration outreach programs sponsored by such groups as the League of Women Voters. In addition, you can also register to vote when applying for a driver’s license or identity card at motor vehicle or driver licensing offices, as well as at many other public facilities. People living in all but three states can register to vote online by visiting www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm. States that have their own websites for registering to vote are noted below. Details of absentee voting procedures are also listed below.

Alabama
Must register to vote 10 days before the election.

If mailed, the absentee ballot must be postmarked no later than the day prior to the election. If hand-delivered, the ballot must be in the office of the absentee election manager by the close of business (but no later than 5 p.m.) on the day before the election.

For more information, call the Voter Hotline at (800) 274-VOTE or obtain an online voter registration application at www.sos.state.al.us/election/vr/vr-a.htm.

Alaska
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

The voter’s signature on the envelope must be witnessed. If the voter wishes to return the absentee ballot by mail, it must be mailed no later than Election Day. Those who wish to absentee vote in person must do so no later than Election Day.

To obtain an online voter registration application visit www.gov.state.ak.us/ltgov/elections/regapp.htm

Arizona
Must register to vote 29 days before the election.

Absentee ballots must be received by the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at: www.servicearizona.com

Arkansas
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

The completed absentee ballot must be received by the office of the county clerk no later than 7:30 p.m. on Election Day if sent through the mail. If the voter wishes to hand-deliver the ballot, it must be received by the clerk’s office no later than the end of regular business hours on the day before the election.

For more information, call the Secretary of State Elections Division Hotline at (800) 482-1127 or obtain an online voter registration application at: www.sosweb.state.ar.us/vote/vote2.html

California
Must register to vote 15 days before the election.

The absentee ballot can be mailed to the Registrar of Voters or delivered in person to any county polling place no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day. If illness or a physical disability prevents the voter from returning his/her ballot in person, that voter may designate a close relative to return the ballot to the polling place.

For more information call the Voter Registration Hotline at (800) 345-VOTE or obtain an online voter registration application at www.ss.ca.gov/elections/
english.pdf [English] or www.ss.ca.gov/elections/spanish.pdf [Spanish].

Colorado
Must register to vote 29 days before the election.

Absentee ballots that are returned by mail must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day (The County Clerk will establish the place where voters should return their absentee ballots).

To obtain an online voter registration application, visit www.sos.state.co.us/ pubs/elections/voter2.doc.

Connecticut
Must register to vote 14 days before the general election.

Absentee ballots may be mailed or hand-delivered to the Town Clerk, but they must be received by the clerk no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.sots.state.ct.us/ ElectionsDivision/elecfrms/VREnglish.PDF [English] or www.sots.state.ct.us/Elections
Division/elecfrms/VRSpanish.PDF [Spanish].

Delaware
Must register to vote 20 days before the election.

Absentee ballots must be returned to the Department of Elections no later than the close of polls on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

District of Columbia
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

If a voter chooses to mail in the completed ballot, it must be postmarked no later than Election Day and must be received by the Board no later than 10 days after the election.
If a voter chooses to hand-deliver the ballot to his/her polling place, it must be delivered no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Florida
Must register to vote 29 days before the election.

The voter must mail, deliver or have delivered the marked ballot so that it reaches the supervisor of elections no later than 7 p.m. on the day of the election. The ballot must be returned in the return mailing envelope.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Georgia
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

Absentee ballots must be signed and received by the county board of registrars’ office on or before Election Day.

Request a voter registration application at sosweb@SOS.State.GA.US.

Hawaii
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

Absentee ballots may be mailed or hand-delivered to the clerk, but must be received by the close of polls on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.hawaii.gov/elections/acrodwn.htm.

Idaho
Must register to vote 25 days before the election.

In order to be counted, the completed absentee ballot must be received by the County Clerk by 8 p.m. on the day of the election. The ballot may be mailed or hand-delivered.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Illinois
Must register to vote 28 days before the election.

The certification on the back should be signed and personally returned or mailed. The absentee ballot must be received by the election authority no later than Election Day (The absentee voter may authorize [in writing] a spouse, parent, child, brother, sister or a licensed motor carrier to deliver the completed ballot to the election authority no later than Election Day).

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Indiana
Must register to vote 29 days before the election.

The completed absentee ballot may be returned by mail to the county election board. The ballot may also be hand-delivered by the voter, a member of the voter’s household or the voter’s attorney. Ballots must be received by the election board at the clerk’s office in time to be processed for the election (it is recommended that ballots be returned to the clerk’s office no later than noon on Election Day).

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Iowa
Must register to vote 10 days before the election.

Absentee ballots may be returned in person by the voter or the voter’s designee to the office of the County Auditor where the ballot was obtained. Ballots must be returned no later than the time the polls close for that election.

Voted absentee ballots may also be returned by mail. Ballots must be postmarked no later than the day before the election and received by the County Auditor no later than noon on the Monday following the election.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.sos.state.ia.us/ PDFS/voteapp.pdf.

Kansas
Must register to vote 15 days before the election.

All absentee ballots that have been sent through the mail must be returned to the county election office by the close of polls on Election Day in order to be counted. The ballot may be returned by mail or in person.

For more information call the Elections Division Hotline (800) 262-VOTE or obtain an online voter registration application at www.ink.org/public/ sos/elecdown.html.

Kentucky
Must register to vote 28 days before the election.

A completed absentee ballot must be mailed to the County Clerk’s office. In order to be counted, the clerk must receive the ballot no later than the close of polls on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.sos.state.ky.us/elecfil/state%20board%20files/registration.htm.

Louisiana
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.
The deadlines for returning the absentee ballot to the Registrar of Voters are as follows:

  • For military personnel and U.S. citizens residing outside of the United States: Election Day
  • For all other voters: The day before the election.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Maine
Must register to vote on election day or 15 days before the election, can register on election day at the polls.

In order to be counted, a completed absentee ballot must be returned to the municipal clerk by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Any registered voter may also choose to vote in person at the clerk’s office as soon as absentee ballots are available.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Maryland
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

The absentee ballot should be filled in and returned to the county board of elections before or by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Voters requiring an absentee ballot may complete the entire process, including voting, by going in person to the county board of elections.

For more information, call the Maryland Voter’s Information Hotline (800) 222-VOTE or obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Massachusetts
Must register to vote 20 days before the election.

The absentee ballot must be returned by mail before the close of the polls on Election Day.

For more information, call the Elections Division Hotline at (800) 462-8683 (in state only) or obtain an online voter registration application at www.magnet.state.ma.us/sec/ele/elestu/stuidx.htm.

Michigan
Must register to vote 30 days before the election date.

All absentee ballots must be hand-delivered or mailed to the clerk’s office. In order to be counted, the ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Minnesota
Must register to vote 20 days before the election or on Election Day at the polls.

Absentee ballots must be returned to the county auditor or city clerk no later than the close of polls on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Mississippi
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

Once completed, the absentee ballot must be received by the registrar no later than 5 p.m. on the day preceding the election.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Missouri
Must register to vote by 5 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday before the election.

Completed absentee ballots must be returned by mail or in person to the election board before 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Montana
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

Absentee ballots must be completed and either hand-delivered or mailed to the Election Administrator no later than the close of polls on Election Day.

For more information, call Elections Division Hotline at (888) 884-VOTE or obtain an online voter registration application at www.state.mt.us/sos/regcard.htm.

Nebraska
Mail-in registration must be postmarked on or before the third Friday before an election. Register in person at your county clerk/election commissioner’s office or outside registration sites up to 10 days before an election.

Voters can vote absentee in person 35 days before statewide elections and 15 days before city elections. The deadline to vote absentee in person is 5:30 p.m. the day before the election. Ballots returned in person, whether by the voter or by an agent, must be returned by 8 p.m. election night. All ballots returned by mail must be received by 10 a.m. on the second day following the election.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Nevada
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

The voted ballot may be hand-delivered or mailed to the county clerk, but it must be returned no later than the close of polls on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

New Hampshire
Must register to vote 10 days before the election or at the polls on Election Day.

Clerks may accept completed absentee ballots submitted in person until 5 p.m. the day before an election or until 5 p.m. on Election Day if received through the mail.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm

New Jersey
Must register to vote 29 days before the election.

In order to be counted, the completed absentee ballot must be received by the County Board of Elections no later than 8 p.m. the day of the election.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.state.nj.us/state/gif/votereg.gif.

New Mexico
Must register to vote 28 days before the election.

Voters who choose to vote absentee by mail should allow sufficient time for the ballot to be sent out by the county clerk, completed and returned to the clerk by Election Day 7 p.m.

For more information, call the Elections Division Hotline at (800) 477-3632 or obtain an online voter registration application atwww.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

New York
Must register to vote 25 days before the election.

In order to be counted, the absentee ballot must either be delivered to the Board of Elections by the close of polls on Election Day (9 p.m.) or be postmarked the day before the election and received by the Board of Elections no later than seven days after the election.

For more information, call (800) FOR-VOTE or obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

North Carolina
Must register to vote 25 days before the election.

The absentee ballot must be returned to the county elections office in person or by mail no later than 5 p.m. on the day before the election.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

North Dakota
North Dakota has no voter registration.

Absentee ballots must be mailed to the county auditor or appropriate election official and must be postmarked the day before the election in order to be counted.

Ohio
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

All voted absentee ballots must be received at the board office by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Oklahoma
Must register to vote 25 days before the election.

Any absentee ballot that is sent out through the mail must also be returned by mail. In order to be counted, an absentee ballot must be received by the county election board before 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Oregon
Must register to vote 21 days before the election.

The absentee ballot may be mailed or hand-delivered to the county clerk. In order to be counted, the ballot must be received by the clerk no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.sos.state.or.us/ elections/other.info/vreg.htm.

Pennsylvania
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

All absentee ballots must be returned to the County Board of Elections by 5 p.m. on the Friday before the election.

Obtain an online voter registration application at http://web.dos.state. pa.us/elections/voterreg/vr_app1.cgi.

Rhode Island
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

Completed ballots may be mailed or hand-delivered to the local Board of Canvassers. The deadline for submitting a ballot is 9 p.m. on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

South Carolina
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

Absentee ballots can be returned to the county voters’ registration board by mail or in person. In order for a ballot to be counted, it must be received by the board by the close of polls on Election Day (7 p.m.).

Obtain an online voter registration at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

South Dakota
Must register to vote 15 days before the election.

The voter must sign a statement on the absentee ballot envelope prior to returning the ballot. All voted ballots must be returned to the auditor in time to be delivered to the appropriate polling place prior to the closing of the polls. No applications will be accepted after 3 p.m. on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Tennessee
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

In order to be counted, the completed absentee ballot must be mailed in time to reach the commission office on or before Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Texas
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

In order to be counted, an absentee ballot must be received by the clerk before 7 p.m. on election day.

For more information, call the Elections Division Hotline at (800) 252-VOTE or obtain an online voter registration application at www.sos.state.tx.us/ function/elec1/voter/reqvr.htm.

Utah
Must register to vote 20 days before the election.

Absentee ballots must be returned to the appropriate election officer by the close of polls on Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Vermont
Must register to vote by the second Saturday before the election.

Completed ballots must be returned to the town clerk before the polls close on Election Day in order to be counted.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Virginia
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

Completed absentee ballots must be received in the general registrar’s office by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Washington
Must register to vote 30 days before the election by mail or 15 days before the election in person.

The returned absentee ballot must be postmarked or delivered to the county election officer on or before Election Day to be valid.

For more information, call the Elections Division Hotline at (800) 448-4881 or obtain an online voter registration application at www.secstate.wa.gov/ voting/register.htm.

West Virginia
Must register to vote 30 days before the election.

In order to be counted in the election the returned absentee ballot must be received by the circuit clerk by Election Day, or postmarked no later than Election Day and received by the beginning of the canvass for the election.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Wisconsin
Registration must be completed in the local voter registration office one day prior to an election, or registration can be completed at the polling place on Election Day.

In order to be counted, a completed absentee ballot must be received by the clerk no later than Election Day.

Obtain an online voter registration application at www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm.

Wyoming
Must register to vote 30 days before the election or on Election Day.

In order to be counted, voted absentee ballots must be returned to the county clerk no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day.

There is no downloadable registration form for Wyoming. For instructions on registering, please view http://soswy.state.wy.us/election/vote.htm.

The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
Overdrive editors and ATBS present the industry’s best manual for prospective and committed owner-operators. You’ll find exceptional depth on many issues in the 2021 edition of Partners in Business.
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