Today, in a letter signed by our entire election reform coalition, we asked both Chairman James Murphy and Speaker DeLeo to re-think the election reform bill (H.3647) just reported out from Committee:
Last fall Massachusetts voters in cities across the Commonwealth waited in lines of up to two hours to cast their votes. Others understandably could not wait that long and went home. Still others were turned away because of issues around inactive voting lists, registration glitches, and their inability to legally obtain an absentee ballot.
Massachusetts should be a leader in dealing with these and other problems that put unnecessary roadblocks in front of legitimate voters.
Indeed, Massachusetts lags behind much of the country in election modernization—even those states that recently rolled back their laws often have advances that have never been law here.
What We Said
Because the bill contains only online voter registration and an unacceptable early voting provision, we cannot support it in its current form.
We hope that you will consider adding back into the bill the two provisions that the House passed last year—audits of election equipment and pre-registration.
These provisions are important reforms that will make voting more secure and will encourage young people to register to vote.
The House is already on record supporting them and our conversations with members show they retain widespread support. Not including audits and pre-registration seems to be a retreat from a positive stance the House took last year. With these two provisions plus online voter registration and appropriate changes to the early voting sections of H.3647, we will be enthusiastic supporters.
Of course, Election Day Voter Registration is the most impactful reform that could be included in the bill, and we hope that you will consider either adding it to this package or passing it at another time.
Massachusetts trails much of the country in voting modernization laws and we need to catch up. The current bill is an inadequately small step when what we need is a big leap, and we hope that you will work to rectify that before the bill leaves the House.