All of us at LWVMA were saddened to learn of the recent passing of Lucy Wilson Benson. Lucy was President of LWVMA from 1961 to 1965 and before that, she was President of the League of Women Voters, Amherst from 1957 to 1958. She became President of the League of Women Voters of the United States in 1968 and served in that position until 1974. One of the many achievements during her tenure as president of LWVUS was the admission of men to full membership. Bruce Benson, her husband of 40 years, became the first male member of LWVUS, and of the Amherst League, in 1974. Please click here to read more about Lucy’s remarkable life.
Boston, MA –Voting rights advocates, public interest groups and a network of state and local
organizations praised the decision Monday by the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee
on Elections Laws to send the VOTES Act to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the first
step in bringing the comprehensive voting bill up for a vote.
The VOTES Act will make several permanent changes to Massachusetts’ election laws,
including: allowing voters to vote by mail without an excuse; expanding early voting options;
establishing same day voter registration; ensuring that the Commonwealth joins the 30-state
Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) to keep voter registration rolls up-to-date;
implementing risk limiting audits, the “gold standard” of post-election audits; making sure that
eligible voters who are incarcerated are able to request a mail ballot and vote; and more.
The VOTES Act is strongly supported by the Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition, an
umbrella group working to modernize the Commonwealth’s election laws.
“The League of Women Voters applauds the election laws committee for moving quickly to
position the VOTES Act for a vote. It is important for the legislature to pass a permanent,
comprehensive voting bill to assure full access by all eligible citizens and continued smooth
functioning of our election process,” said Patricia Comfort, Executive Director, League of
Women Voters of Massachusetts. “At a time when too many states are restricting voting
access, we are proud of the direction our legislature is taking.”
Read the full press release here.
Voting rights advocates including LWVMA and our partners in the Election Modernization Coalition testified in support of An Act Fostering Voter Opportunities Trust, Equity, and Security (VOTES Act) at today’s Joint Committee on Election Laws hearing. The VOTES Act (H.805/S.459) would codify pandemic election reforms like early voting and vote-by-mail, establish same-day voter registration, increase access for incarcerated voters, and improve election infrastructure.
“It is crucial for Massachusetts to set an example as a state moving to increase—not decrease—access to the polls and secure elections. The times demand that Massachusetts goes on record as enhancing the ability of all citizens to vote,” said LWVMA Executive Director Pattye Comfort.
LWVMA hosted two events last month related to climate and energy. Watch the recorded events to learn more about regional and statewide climate policy and how we as advocates can make a difference:
The Transportation and Climate Initiative: Improving The Regional Economy and Health For All
Rhode Island and Connecticut are at a critical point in advancing the Transportation and Climate Initiative. The League of Women Voters of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts hosted a webinar focused on reducing pollution and investing in modern, clean, regional transportation solutions. Watch the webinar, co-hosted by the Transportation Team of the LWVUS Climate Interest Group, The Acadia Center, Green Energy Consumers Alliance, Ceres, and Transportation for Massachusetts, here.
The Race to Zero Emissions: MA Next Generation Climate Law and Clean Energy & Climate Plan
The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts Environmental Action and Advocacy Committee hosted a discussion about the new Massachusetts climate legislation with John Rogers from the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Matt Rusteika from the Acadia Center. The discussion centered on the goals of the new climate law, strategies to achieve those goals, the critical role of the regional electrical grid, and our role as advocates. Watch the recorded meeting here.
BOSTON — Over 300 advocates signed up to lobby from all across the Commonwealth capitalizing on a virtual lobby day to support “An Act Fostering Voter Opportunities Trust, Equity, and Security.” i.e. the VOTES Act. Sponsored by the Election Modernization Coalition, the event featured remarks from bill sponsors Representative John Lawn and Senator Cindy Creem, along with Gladys Vega from La Colaborativa and Tanisha Sullivan from the NAACP Boston.
A full recording is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1PcFsulX8iypAE5aoDW37anruq4_f8ytX/edit
The bill has over 100 legislative sponsors including over 50% of House members and 50% of Senate members. According to the filers and advocates, it is a top priority for the 192nd General Court, and should be passed early in the session to ensure its reforms are available to voters in the fall 2021 municipal elections.
Mail-in voting, expanded early voting, and other provisions included in temporary legislation passed last session are set to expire at the end of June 2021.
“It’s critical that we ensure reforms that already worked for voters, and that voters expect will be available to them again, are in place for our upcoming municipal elections and future state election,” said Representative John Lawn (D-Watertown).
“The VOTES Act takes a comprehensive look at the state of elections in Massachusetts,” said Senate Majority Leader Cindy Creem (D-Newton). “Even with mail-in voting, Bay Staters still face barriers to participation like our 20-day registration deadline. That’s why we include Same Day Registration. Incarcerated eligible voters – who are disproportionately Black or people of color – face undue barriers to casting a counted ballot. That’s why we include jail-based voting provisions. And our voter registration infrastructure needs work so the job of facilitating elections is easier on clerks, and our elections are more secure — that’s why we expand post-election audits and include a deadline by which the State must join 31 other states in participating in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).”
Advocates on the call had pre-arranged Zoom calls and phone calls with their representatives and senators while others did phone-banking in break-out groups. The message was clear: the VOTES Act needs a swift public hearing and passage to guarantee access, equity, and security for the fall elections.
The Election Modernization Coalition is composed of the ACLU of Massachusetts, Common Cause Massachusetts, Lawyers for Civil Rights, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, MassVOTE, and the Massachusetts Voter Table.