Ranked Choice Voting and Early Voting: Making Our Elections More Democratic

Testimony submitted to the Joint Committee on Election Laws.

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

My name is Jonathan Cohn, and I chair the Issues Committee at Progressive Massachusetts, a statewide grassroots advocacy group committed to fighting for progressive policy here in the Commonwealth. A core part of our platform is an electoral system that expands voting, the electorate, and its trust in candidates and elected officials.

Accordingly, we urge you to give a favorable report to An Act to use of ranked choice voting in elections (H.719/S.414), An Act providing a local option for ranked choice voting in municipal elections (H.635/S.420), and An Act to extend early voting for all elections (H.681/S.390).

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Crumbling Infrastructure Isn't Just a Halloween Fright -- It's a Year-Round Reality

TL;DR: Tell your state legislators it's time to make corporations pay their fair share.


Structurally deficient bridges. Congested roads in desperate need of repaving. Buses and trains that never manage to come on time. These are a daily reality in Massachusetts.

It's gotten so bad that CNBC recently ranked us 48th in the country in infrastructure, and the American Society for Civil Engineers gave us a D+.

The reason for this is no mystery. Misguided, regressive tax cuts from two decades ago, combined with a Legislature beholden to throwback anti-tax sentiments, have led to severely reduced revenue for the investments we need in our infrastructure.

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The Criminal Justice Reform Bill Was Comprehensive -- But Not Complete

Chairman Eldridge, Chairwoman Cronin, members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary,

My name is Jonathan Cohn, and I am the chair of the Issues Committee of Progressive Massachusetts, a statewide grassroots advocacy group fighting to make Massachusetts a leader on progressive policy.

Our platform demands justice for all, wherein underrepresented and/or vulnerable communities are protected under the law and treated with dignity and respect and tools for economic mobility. Criminal justice reform is an essential part of that, especially creating a system that ensures public safety, strong communities, and effective use of public funds.

The comprehensive criminal justice reform bill passed last session took many important steps in such a direction, born out of a recognition of the social and economic costs of mass incarceration. However, the fact that the law was comprehensive does not mean that it was complete, and many vital reforms were left on the table.

One example is raising the age of criminal majority. That is why we are submitting testimony today in support of H.3420/S.825: An Act to Promote Public Safety and Better Outcomes for Young Adults.

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"We Measure What We Value."

Dear Chairman Pacheco, Chairwoman Gregoire, and Members of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight:

My name is Jonathan Cohn, and I am the chair of the Issues Committee at Progressive Massachusetts, a statewide grassroots advocacy group working to advance progressive policy here in the Commonwealth.

A core part of our platform is justice, wherein underrepresented and/or vulnerable communities are protected under the law and treated with dignity and respect and tools for economic mobility. Aims include. That is why we’re writing today in support of H.2681, An Act Ensuring Equitable Representation in the Commonwealth, filed by Representative Tackey Chan.

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"Massachusetts Doesn't Need to Be Complicit."

Tuesday, October 8, 2019 

Chairman Eldridge, Chairwoman Cronin, and Members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary: 

My name is Jonathan Cohn, and I serve as the chair of the Issues Committee of Progressive Massachusetts, a statewide grassroots advocacy group focused on advancing progressive policy here in Massachusetts. We are committed to fighting for a sensible and human-focused immigration system, wherein all historically marginalized communities are protected under the law and treated with dignity and respect.

The current immigration system is as far from that as possible. Although our federal immigration system worked against public safety and community stability before January 2017, the current presidential administration has chosen to double down on all of the worst elements of our immigration system, in betrayal of the values that many hold dear and that our country pretends to have. 

Massachusetts does not need to be complicit in this. 

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"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.  

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The Student Opportunity Act is a Win. Let's Make it Better.

Four years ago this very month, the Foundation Budget Review Commission highlighted how the state has been shortchanging public schools due to an outdated funding formula.

Because of the advocacy of teachers, students, parents, community members, and YOU, that formula will finally get fixed.

The Student Opportunity Act will provide $1.5 billion per year in new school funding to help the students who need it the most.

Tomorrow, when the MA Senate votes on the bill, we have an opportunity to strengthen it so that this once-in-a-generation bill is as strong as possible.

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Let's Bring Election Day Day Registration to Massachusetts.

Today is National Voter Registration Day. It’s also Election Day for cities like Boston, Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Taunton. 

With our 20-day voter registration cutoff, the last day to register, or update your registration, was all the way back in the beginning of September. By the time that a graduate in a new apartment, a young family seeking more affordable rent or more space, or a retiree looking to downsize may have found out that an election was even happening, they risked being shut out of participation.

That’s neither just nor necessary. 

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"Sexual Harassment Occurs in the State House every single day."

The #MeToo movement brought national attention to how pervasive sexual assault and sexual harassment are across institutions and industries, but anyone who ever worked or advocated in the Massachusetts State House already knew.

As State Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa (D-Northampton) said in a recent article, “Sexual harassment occurs in the State House every single day.” 

And that needs to change. 

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Driver's Licenses: An Equity Issue and a Public Safety Issue

Chairman Boncore, Chairman Straus, and members of the Joint Committee on Transportation, my name is Jonathan Cohn, and I am pleased to offer testimony. Progressive Massachusetts would like to go on record in support of S.2061 / H.3012: An Act relative to work and family mobility.

The Work and Family Mobility Act would enable all qualified state residents to apply for a standard Massachusetts driver’s license, regardless of immigration status, to increase road and public safety and allow for greater mobility across our Commonwealth.  

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