August 9, 2018/BOSTON, MA – Today with Governor Charlie Baker’s signature, Massachusetts became the 14th state to adopt a system of Automatic Voter Registration, which could add up to 700,000 eligible citizens who are not currently registered to the voter rolls. Originally introduced by Sen. Cynthia Creem and the late Rep. Peter Kocot, the legislation passed the House resoundingly in June and the Senate unanimously last month. The conference committee report resolving the differences between the two bills was enacted in the last days of the legislative session.
Advocates applauded the reform, which will make elections more accurate, more secure, and more available to all. It establishes a system for eligible citizens to automatically register to vote when they interact with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, MassHealth, or the Health Connector.
“We are thrilled with the legislation,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts, which led the broad-based coalition pushing for the bill. “It is one of the strongest in the country and will make our voter registrations system more efficient, accurate, and secure while at the same time improving voter participation. In these times, all of these goals are particularly important. Many thanks to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate Presidents Spilka and Chandler, and the conferees who championed the bill: Representatives Michael Moran, John Mahoney, and Shawn Dooley, and Senators Cynthia Creem, Anne Gobi, and Ryan Fattman.”
The legislation has enjoyed broad support in both legislative chambers and both parties. Attorney General Maura Healey and Secretary of State Bill Galvin are also supporters. The legislation was endorsed by 65 organizations including environmental, civil rights, consumer, community, labor, and good government groups.
Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have already passed automatic voter registration: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. A report based on data from Oregon, Vermont, and Colorado concluded that the cost of implementing AVR in Massachusetts would be minimal.
“This is about more people having access to the ballot when Election Day comes around, plain and simple,” said Carol Rose, Executive Director at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “It’s a great step forward for anyone who believes that voting is a fundamental right, and our government should use all available tools to engage people in the democratic process.”
“Congratulations to all the ‘Champions of Democracy.’ Massachusetts has now taken the right step in passing a critical reform that will expand not only the opportunity for more people to have a voice but also the benefit of being a voter,” added Executive Director of MassVOTE Cheryl Clyburn Crawford. “This is a huge step in securing future generations a more free and fair democracy.”
“This is a home run for democracy,” declared Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG. “The push for this law has gone many innings, but now we all win.”
“Automatic Voter Registration is a huge win for the people of Massachusetts. Democracy works best when it works for everyone, and AVR will help our democracy work better for more people. The League is proud to have been part of the coalition driving this effort,” said Meryl Kessler, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.
“Automatic Voter Registration makes our democracy more inclusive for all eligible voters. This is an important step toward expanding and diversifying the electorate of Massachusetts,” said Beth Huang, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Voter Table.
Jonathan Cohn of Progressive Massachusetts added: “Our democracy is strongest when everyone’s voice is able to be heard. Automatic voter registration is a simple reform, but it can have a huge impact on engaging new voters in the democratic process.”
The Election Modernization Coalition is led by Common Cause Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, ACLU of Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, and Progressive Massachusetts. More information about AVR can be found here.