"A security that disenfranchises is no security at all."

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

 Chairman Finegold, Chairman Lawn, and Members of the Joint Committee on Election Laws:  

I’m writing on behalf of Progressive Massachusetts, a statewide member-driven advocacy organization committed to advancing progressive policy in our state. Since our founding, good government and strong democracy have been an essential part of our mission.  

As the 2020 election approaches, we need to be thinking about how we can best improve the security of our elections and the participation in our elections. Too often, security and participation are pitted against each other, and a security that disenfranchises is no security at all.  

Post-Election Audits 

Risk-limiting audits are an essential way to confirm the accuracy of elections and boost voter faith in the democratic process. The post-election audits that were created by the 2015 election modernization bill are limited to the presidential general election and rely on a sample of just 3% of total ballots, without confirming whether or not the election result is correct. Risk-limiting audits, by contrast, ensure that the reported winners of elections are the actual winners and can catch problems resulting from foreign interference, technological glitches, or simple human error.

We urge you to give a favorable report to S. 388, H. 687, H. 721, and H. 694. The first three bills would enact risk-limiting post-election audits, the gold standard reform. H. 694 strengthens the current system by applying the current 3% audit to presidential primaries and state general elections. 

Language Access

Language should not be a barrier to participation in our democracy. Accordingly, we also urge a favorable report to H.690 (An Act concerning certain ballots). This bill would require the full translation of all ballots, including transliteration of candidates’ names in languages that do not use the Roman alphabet. This particularly impacts limited English proficient Chinese and Cambodian voters.  

Transliteration affirms the right to a secret ballot, ensuring that all voters are able to mark their ballot for their intended candidates independently. This is a clear win-win for security and participation.  

Early Voting

Early voting, which was authorized by the 2015 election modernization bill, was a success. However, it was limited to state and federal elections. The City of Boston has a home rule petition to expand early voting to city elections, and we urge a favorable report to this petition, H. 3859. Due to work, school, or familial engagements, many people are unable to find the time to go to the polls on Election Day. Expanding early voting ensures that scheduling conflicts are not a barrier to participation and reduces any confusion people might have about which elections offer early voting.  

Our democracy is our most cherished institution, and we need to strengthen it.



 Jonathan Cohn

Chair, Issues Committee

Progressive Massachusetts

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