Thank you to everyone who joined us for a successful Day on the Hill lobby day, Act for the Future, on Wednesday, October 11.
Many thanks to Senate Majority Leader Cindy Creem for serving as our keynote speaker. Senator Creem is the lead sponsor of our top priority elections and voting bill, the ACCESS Act. Special thanks to Rashelle Centeio from Senator Liz Miranda’s office for briefing us on S.1415, An Act relative to birthing justice.
League members enjoyed productive meetings with their legislators to ask for support for bills in four priority areas:
- Elections and Voting: S.410, An Act making voting administrative changes to create equitable systemic solutions (ACCESS Act)
- Maternal Health: S.1415, An Act relative to birthing justice
- Firearms: (H4135, An Act modernizing firearm laws, Senate bill to be filed)
- PFAS (forever chemicals): H.2197 /S.1356, An Act to protect Massachusetts public health from PFAS
ICYMI: There is still time to contact your legislators in support of our priority legislation. View the information packet for Day on the Hill here. If you reference the firearms legislation, the House has now passed a bill, so you just need to urge your Senator to support a strong firearms bill this session.
See you at our next Day on the Hill in October 2025.
BOSTON – Advocates and directly impacted citizens testified before the Joint Committee on Election Laws today in support of the Voting ACCESS Act, a comprehensive legislative proposal that would modernize Massachusetts’ election administration and eliminate remaining barriers to the ballot box.
“Our work to make democracy more accessible remains unfinished,” said Geoff Foster, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “The Voting ACCESS Act will remove long-standing barriers to voting by enacting same day registration, disability voting oversight, and other reforms to make voting easier for Bay Staters. It is important that this bill be passed and implemented in time for the 2024 presidential election.”
“Same Day Voter Registration is a critical step towards eliminating barriers to voting, which disproportionately affect voters of color and low income voters,” said Shanique Spalding, executive director of the MA Voter Table. “By adopting the Voting ACCESS Act, our state will send a clear message that every eligible citizen’s voice matters and deserves to be heard.”
“The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts applauds the legislature for the steps taken a year ago to make voting easier and more accessible for registered voters. We urge the legislature to build on this progress by passing same-day voter registration and separating the municipal census from inactive voter status. These reforms will ensure eligible citizens can vote and will reduce problems at the polls on Election Day,” said Pattye Comfort, executive director.
“We’re in the thick of primary season, with the future of local government on the line in communities around the Commonwealth. There’s no more pressing time to call for greater access to the ballot,” said Traci Griffith, Racial Justice program director at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Every barrier that keeps people of color, renters, seniors, people with disabilities – or, for that matter, any qualified voter – from casting their vote is a barrier that urgently needs to be dismantled. This is what democracy looks like.”
“Our country’s democracy is a work in progress,” said Janet Domenitz, executive director of MASSPIRG. “That said, some states are going backwards — putting up barriers to people voting. Let’s be a state where things are moving forward — by passing the Voting Access Act.”
“From malfunctioning automatic doors to improperly set up AutoMARK machines and inadequate signage, people with disabilities face far too many obstacles when exercising their fundamental right to vote. This bill is a crucial step toward making our elections truly accessible for all,” said Barbara L’Italien, executive director of the Disability Law Center. “Let’s remove these unnecessary barriers and enhance accessibility, ensuring that every voice is heard in our elections.”
“Guided by our values and our commitment to a pluralistic Commonwealth, where ballot access is fundamental, we encourage the Legislature to continue the good and important work of removing remaining barriers to voting”, said FayeRuth Fisher, senior director of public affairs at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston.
“Lawyers for Civil Rights demands the expansion of equitable access to the ballot box. The Voting ACCESS Act, true to its name, advances that goal,” said Jacob Love, staff attorney at Lawyers for Civil Rights. “Through common sense policies like same-day voter registration, it eliminates many of the primary obstacles to voting for traditionally disenfranchised groups. We support this critical legislation and urge lawmakers to enact it.”
Sponsored by Senator Cindy Creem, this legislation contains four key elements:
- Same day voter registration, which is already in use in 22 states. (Also filed by Rep. Carmine Gentile)
- Decoupling voter registration from the municipal Census, which will ensure that not responding to the municipal census will no longer result in being dropped from the active voter rolls. (Also filed by Rep. Frank Moran)
- Uniform mail and absentee voting forms and ballots, which will reduce costs and workload for local election officials, and reduce confusion from voters. (Also filed by Rep. Shirley Arriaga)
- Strengthening accessible polling location oversight, which will require the Secretary of State to inspect all voting sites at least once every four years to ensure they comply with federal and state disability accessibility laws. (Also filed by Rep. Kay Khan)
More information on the ACCESS Act is available here.
Today’s panelists are available for further comment on this legislation. Please contact Geoff Foster (firstname.lastname@example.org / 978-930-9436) for more information.
The Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition is a group of advocacy organizations working to modernize the Commonwealth’s election laws. The coalition is made up of Common Cause Massachusetts, ACLU of Massachusetts, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, MASSPIRG, Lawyers for Civil Rights, the Disability Law Center, and the Jewish Community Relations Council.
To the Editor:
As a primary sponsor of candidate forums in local and state elections, the League of Women
Voters believes strongly that candidates must be able to comment on issues central to their races.
We therefore urge the state attorney general to clarify immediately that candidates, including
incumbents, are within their rights to discuss current and pending issues in public forums
(“Waltham legal opinion chills political debate,” Editorial, Nov. 4).
The legal opinion issued by the Waltham city solicitor, as cited in your editorial, that it would be
‘potentially problematic’ for elected city officials to participate in discussions at political forums
that relate to issues currently before the City Council or its committees” deprives voters of
opportunities to learn where candidates stand on important issues before they vote.
The League strongly disagrees with this legal opinion and asks Attorney General Andrea
Campbell to issue a definitive ruling allowing candidates to discuss all relevant issues before the
2024 election season begins.
League of Women Voters of Massachusetts
League of Women Voters of Massachusetts
Thanks to everyone who came to Harvard, MA for our annual League Leader lunch. It was great to gather together with 60 League leaders representing 26 local Leagues. Our thanks to Representative Kate Hogan, Speaker Pro Tempore, for spending her busy Saturday morning with us to discuss H. 2197, an Act to Protect Massachusetts Public Health from PFAS. We were thrilled that Katharine Lange, Policy Director for the Massachusetts River Alliance, could join us to discuss the effect of climate change on our water resources and waterways. And finally, a big thank you to our panelists Carolyn Lee, LWVMA Legislative Specialist on Natural Resources, Laurie Nehring, President of PACE (People of Ayer Concerned about the Environment), Janet Rothrock, LWV Concord-Carlise, Evelyn Strawn, LWV Plymouth Area and Denise Morreale, LWV Falmouth.