A progressive Massachusetts is one where everybody, regardless of work schedule, neighborhood or economic status has ample opportunity to participate in our democracy. Voting is a right, and our elected officials should move quickly and decisively to pass measures that ensure it is as easy as possible for people to exercise that right.
Unfortunately, too often, voting is regarded as a privilege and not a right. Today, it is too hard for everyone to participate in our elections. Arcane, outdated election laws mean too many people are unable to vote and less voter participation contributes to many of the problems that we see on Beacon Hill every day – namely, that legislators don’t feel as responsive to their constituents as they should.
The good news is there are solutions in front of the legislature right now. Election Day Registration (EDR) – which is currently working in 8 other states, including our neighbors to the north – New Hampshire and Maine – is a proven way to increase voter participation an average of 10%. There are a number of bills to improve our elections being considered in the coming months but the most effective way to boost voter participation, hands down, is EDR.
Additionally, early voting is an effective way to make sure that voters can participate when it is convenient for them. No one, particularly low and middle income voters, should have to miss work to vote, or miss out on caring for their families because of restrictive polling hours, or long lines that make what should be a 10 minute process take half a day.
Where Do We Stand
The Joint Committee released a disappointing bill in September and passed that bill with limited change on the last day of the session.
On Thursday, January 16, the Senate passed what is probably the best election reform bill in the nation by a vote of 37-1.
Action now moves to a conference committee that has yet to be named.