Front Page News, Improving Elections

Following Defeat of Federal Voting Bill in U.S. Senate, Election Modernization Coalition urges Massachusetts Legislature to pass VOTES Act

The Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition is deeply disappointed that the U.S. Senate cannot find a way to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act to protect access to the ballot box across the country. Senate Republicans had previously blocked even beginning debate on legislation passed by the U.S. House, including the For The People Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Among other important reforms, the federal legislation would have included  same-day voter registration, no-excuse vote-by-mail, permanent early voting, and “gold-standard” post-election audits. Fortunately for those of us in the Commonwealth, we have another path to ensure that same level of access for Bay State voters.

The Massachusetts Legislature must now move quickly to pass the VOTES Act (S.2554), which includes same-day voter registration and other voting reforms for our state. The bill will implement same-day registration and make permanent the expansion of voting by mail and in-person early voting put in place in 2020 because of the pandemic. The bill has passed the Senate and is currently in the House Ways & Means Committee.

Our Coalition urges the House to pass the VOTES Act, including its provision for same-day registration, to help Massachusetts catch up to the 21 other states which already allow people to register or correct their voter registration and cast their ballot on the same day, and to offset the failure of election reform at the federal level. In a week full of celebration and recognition, passage of this Massachusetts bill would honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all civil rights activists.

The Election Modernization Coalition is made up of Common Cause Massachusetts, ACLU of Massachusetts, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, MassPIRG and Lawyers for Civil Rights