Business groups and networks are urging members of the VOTES Act Conference Committee to include Election Day Registration in the final VOTES Act voting reform bill.
The Alliance for Business Leadership, Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, Microsoft, Salesforce, Foundation for Business Equity, Emblem Strategic, MA Association of Community Development Corporations have endorsed Election Day Registration.
View the full letter here.
The endorsement letter – written directly to State House Representative Mike Moran, Senator Barry Finegold and other conference committee members –l cites the positive impact EDR would have on democracy and businesses across the Commonwealth. The letter highlights how the business community has spoken out against bad voting legislation in other states and are now interested in supporting pro-voter measures like EDR in states.
The groups point to the benefit that a healthy democracy has for businesses, how businesses pay close attention to the political landscape in the states they seek to launch or grow in, businesses’ commitment to equity, and the strong connection between civic engagement and a skilled workforce.
“Election Day Registration (EDR) has popular support and will move our democracy forward in our Commonwealth. It’s a game changer in terms of expanding equity and access to the ballot box, especially for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color,” Jennifer Benson, President of the Alliance for Business Leadership said. “Let’s do right by our communities by including EDR in the final version of the VOTES Act so every eligible voter can make their voice heard at the ballot box on election day.”
“Each Election Day, countless otherwise legally eligible voters are turned away from the polls, and despite them being able to easily verify the correct information and complete their registration at that moment, there is currently little recourse for them,” said Black Economic Council of Massachusetts President and CEO Nicole Obi. “This is especially true for black and brown voters who tend to be purged from voting lists at higher rates compared to white voters, and new voters who have been motivated to cast their ballots for the first time. This becomes even more troublesome when you consider that in order to vote, black and brown Americans are statistically more likely to wait in line for longer periods of time and as a result, are also more likely to be forced to call out of work. There is no reasonable justification for Americans being forced to choose between upholding their civic duties or losing wages. Therefore, we must do everything in our power to ensure that voting is accessible to all Americans and that every vote counts!”
“Election Day Registration would remove barriers to voting and make democracy stronger. It’s great to see the Massachusetts business community lend their support for this reform. A stronger democracy is good for business and the links between civic engagement and a skilled workforce create a win-win for all,” said Geoff Foster, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts.
Election Day Registration would allow eligible voters to register and vote on the same day. Current law imposes a 20-day “blackout period” before each election when Bay Staters cannot register to vote, or update or correct their voter registration, a deadline that dates back to 1993. With about 12.6% of Massachusetts residents moving each year, the blackout period creates a barrier to voting for anyone who doesn’t think to update their voter registration until just before the election.
Research shows that Election-Day Registration could increase Black and Latino voter turnout up to 17%. Recent polling shows that 65% of Massachusetts voters support EDR.
These business groups and networks join over one hundred faith-based, labor, business, and nonprofit groups in endorsing Election Day Registration and the VOTES Act.
What is the VOTES Act?
The Senate and House have both passed a version of the VOTES Act. Both versions include permanent vote-by-mail, extended early voting, and more. The one item of disagreement is Same-Day Registration which the Senate included in their version of the bill, but the House excluded. The difference between Same Day Registration and Election Day Registration, is that SDR includes the ability to register on early voting days. EDR is just for Election Day.
The bills (S.2554 & H.4359) are being negotiated by a conference committee led by Representative Mike Moran (D-Brighton) and Senator Barry Finegold (D-Andover) and includes Representative Dan Ryan (D- Charlestown), Representative Shaun Dooley (R- Norfolk), Senator Cindy Creem (D- Newton), and Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton).