March 22, 2018/BOSTON, MA -Secretary of State William Galvin today announced his support for Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) in Massachusetts and urged the legislature to pass the AVR bill (with new bill number H.4320) as soon as possible this session.
“I look forward to working with the Elections Modernization Coalition on the successful implementation of automatic voter registration in Massachusetts and to achieve our shared goal of continuing to increase access and voter participation in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary Galvin at a State House press conference this morning, where he was joined by members of the Coalition.
The AVR legislation, introduced by Sen. Cynthia Creem and the late Rep. Peter Kocot, would establish a system for eligible citizens to automatically register to vote when they interact with a state agency like the Registry of Motor Vehicles or MassHealth. Approximately 680,000 eligible Massachusetts voters are currently not registered.
“We’re pleased to have Secretary Galvin’s support for automatic voter registration in our state,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “AVR will make our election system more accurate, secure and efficient. It is critical for the legislature to pass it as soon as possible.”
The bill has popular and growing support in both legislative chambers. It has 84 House co-sponsors and 22 Senate sponsors and has passed out of the Joint Committee on Election Laws. The legislation is also endorsed by 61 organizations including environmental, civil rights, consumer, community, labor, and good government groups.
“AVR will remove real obstacles to political participation, ensuring that more voices can be heard. Democracy works best when it works for everyone, and AVR will move us one step closer to that ideal,” added Meryl Kessler of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.
Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, Executive Director of MassVOTE said, “MassVOTE is very pleased Secretary Galvin is supporting the AVR bill. It is a step in the right direction to removing one more barrier that disproportionately affects our most disenfranchised communities. We believe it will increase voter participation and turnout while continuing to modernize our election process.”
“Voting is the bedrock of our democratic process, and increased voter participation makes our democracy stronger,” said Carol Rose, executive director of ACLU of Massachusetts. “It’s time for Massachusetts to join the growing national trend and pass automatic voter registration to promote access to the ballot.”
“In addition to the statewide organizations, many new activists have been inspired by the automatic voter registration campaign,” said Joyce Hackett, an activist from Western MA. “Indivisible Massachusetts, People Power, Action Together, Lift Every Vote – we’re all working in concert with the Election Modernization Coalition to pass this bill because we’re inspired by the chance to help so many new, eligible voters participate.”
“Regardless of these nor’easters, we hope the Legislature will quickly ‘spring’ into action, and pass automatic voter registration now,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG.
In Oregon, the first state to implement AVR, 230,000 voters registered in its first six months, and more than 265,000 inaccurate registrations were updated during the same period. About 97,000 new voters participated in the 2016 election because of the reform. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have already passed Automatic Voter Registration, all in a bipartisan manner: Oregon, California, West Virginia, Alaska, Vermont, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Washington.
The Election Modernization Coalition is led by Common Cause Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters or Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, the ACLU of Massachusetts, and Progressive Massachusetts. A full list of organizations endorsing AVR can be found here, and more information about AVR can be found here.