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MA Senate Votes Down Efforts to Protect In-Person Voting, Streamline Mail Voting

Earlier today, the Massachusetts Senate voted 40 to 0 for a bill to protect our fall elections during the pandemic. 

Like the bill passed by the House, the bill contained a number of important provisions:

  • Sending an application to vote early by mail to every registered voter for both the September 1 primary election and the November 3 general election
  • Ensuring all applications and ballots sent by mail include prepaid return postage
  • Ensuring that ballots postmarked by Election Day will be counted (but for the general election only)
  • Allowing voters to apply to vote by mail through an online portal and enabling any voter who wants to vote absentee to do so this year
  • Expanding early voting for the primary and the general

The Senate embraced some opportunities to strengthen the bill during debate today but, unfortunately, rejected others. Here’s a rundown of what happened. 

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Black Lives Matter

The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, and Rayshard Brooks have served as a tragic reminder of the epidemic that is police brutality in the United States. 

Over the past few weeks (indeed, over the past few years), we keep seeing more video evidence of how widespread, how dehumanizing, and how fatal police violence is and how disproportionately such violence is used against the Black community. Some say the current wave of protests is a historic turning point; we need to make it one.

It is important to recognize that the graphic imagery of police brutality is just one of the many violent manifestations of systemic racism and white supremacy. The underfunding of schools in communities of color is a form of violence. The denial of health care access is a form of violence. Exclusionary housing policies are a form of violence. The environmental injustices of siting pollution near communities of color is a form of violence. 

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Just Mail Everyone a Ballot

On June 4, the MA House advanced a bill to expand opportunities to vote by mail and vote early in light of COVID-19 (Read about the good and the bad of the bill here.)

Now, it's the Senate's time to vote, and that means another opportunity to improve the bill--to make it better for voting access and better for public health.

That's why we're supporting the following amendments:

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