Boston – July 6, 2016 – In response to a Politico Massachusetts article, released yesterday, titled “Cities and towns fret over costs of early voting,” the Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition has released the following statement:
“The Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition believes that Early Voting is a vitally important reform that will modernize our democracy and enhance voters’ ability to participate in elections. That’s why we led the campaign for the 2014 legislation that established early voting in our commonwealth, and that’s also why, over the last year, we have led a follow-up campaign to help ensure a robust implementation of the new law. To that end, we have released recommendations for best practices for early voting based on the experience of other states, and have worked with grassroots activists in local communities across Massachusetts to advocate for these goals.
Cities and towns have significant discretion under the new law, and we urge them to use this flexibility to provide more opportunities for voters by extending voting hours over the weekend and evenings of the early voting period. We also urge large communities to offer at least one voting site for every 35,000 people. The Coalition will be awarding gold and silver “medals” later this fall to those communities that rise to the challenge and meet our recommendations.
In the course of this effort, we have heard from some local officials like those in the Politico article who are concerned about the cost of implementing early voting. As part of our recommendations, we suggest cost-saving measures such as having a town hall shift some of their normal business hours during the 11-day early voting period to incorporate evening or weekend hours without adding to the budget. There is also discretion in the number of staff required to be present that may reduce some of the cost estimates. A number of smaller communities have told us their plans are in place with no additional costs.
Our coalition believes that an effective and successful implementation of early voting is crucial, and robust policies will be important to making sure the new law truly meets its goals: easing access to the ballot for Massachusetts voters, shortening lines at polling locations, and improving the voting experience for citizens and elections administrators alike. We urge all cities and towns to make every effort to provide more opportunities for voters to cast their ballots.
For more details on the Election Modernization Coalition’s recommendations and implementation campaign, please go to www.earlyvotingma.com/
The Election Modernization Coalition is comprised of the ACLU of Massachusetts, Common Cause Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, and more.