Recording of Webinar on “Barriers to Voting” with Prof. Erin O’Brien Now Available

October 31, 2018/Boston, MA–A recording of the Oct. 29 LWVMA webinar on “Barriers to Voting” featuring Professor Erin O’Brien is now available here.  In this webinar, Professor O’Brien presents an excellent overview of systemic voting barriers as well as policy reforms that can help get out the vote.

Professor O’Brien is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her areas of specialization are poverty politics, campaigning & elections, race in American politics, and American public policy. She is a regular commentator on all things public policy and Massachusetts politics for WGBH and numerous other media outlets. Her scholarship and commentary have been featured in outlets including The New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, MSNBC, Time, and Newsweek.

Massachusetts Becomes 14th State to Adopt Automatic Voter Registration

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.

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Automatic Voter Registration Passes MA Senate Unanimously

June 12, 2018/Boston, MA — The Massachusetts Senate today unanimously passed the Automatic Voter Registration bill!  The Senate and House will now reconcile the minor differences in the two versions of the bill, and it is expected to be sent to Governor Baker for his signature soon.

Automatic Voter Registration is the next major reform in the voting process, and Massachusetts will become the 14th state to adopt this measure.  At a time when there are efforts across the country to make it more difficult for citizens to register and to vote, Massachusetts can be proud of taking this very positive step toward helping our citizens register.

 

The League of Women Voters and its partners in the Election Modernization Coalition issued a press release following the vote.

LWVMA and Coalition Partners Urge Massachusetts Senate to Pass Clean AVR Bill

July 9, 2018/Boston,MA – The League of Women of Massachusetts and its partners in the Election Modernization Coalition sent a letter today to members of the Massachusetts Senate urging them to vote in favor of H.4671, Automatic Voter Registration (AVR), when it comes to the Senate floor, hopefully later this week.

The letter requested that the Senate pass a clean bill, stating in pertinent part: “In the interest of getting the bill through the entire legislative process this late in the session, we also ask that you refrain from amending the AVR bill that came over from the House. While we too support other election law reforms, adding amendments this late in the session could imperil AVR….AVR will make vital upgrades to our registration system, keeping our voter rolls more up-to-date, enhancing the security of our electoral process, and encouraging new voters to get involved. However, in order for this measure to be in place for the next Presidential election in 2020, it must be enacted this session—next year would be too late.”

The letter is available here.

Automatic Voter Registration Bill Passes Massachusetts House

June 27, 2018/BOSTON, MA – With a bipartisan vote of 130-20, the Massachusetts House today passed Automatic Voter Registration (H. 4667).

The AVR legislation, originally 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.

“Automatic Voter Registration will make voting more accurate, more secure, and more available to all. It’s a win for democracy, it’s a win for security, and it’s a win for voters,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts, which led the broad-based coalition pushing for the bill. “Utilizing existing technology to modernize the voter registration process just is basic common sense, and we are thrilled that 130 Representatives agreed with us. Many thanks to Speaker DeLeo and Minority Leader Jones for supporting this critical reform.”

The bill now advances to the Senate where it must be approved before the July 31st end of the legislative session. It has enjoyed broad support in both legislative chambers, with 85 House co-sponsors, 23 Senate sponsors, and a favorable report from the Joint Committee on Election Laws. Attorney General Maura Healey and Secretary of State Bill Galvin are also supporters. The legislation is endorsed by 65 organizations including environmental, civil rights, consumer, community, labor, and good government groups.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have 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.

“While voter suppression is on the rise nationally, we’re proud Massachusetts is leading the way forward to expand ballot access,” said Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Voter registration should be simple, accessible, and secure, because increased voter participation makes our democracy stronger.”

“We commend the legislature’s passage of Automatic Voter Registration, a reform that will expand the electorate to those too frequently pushed to the margins,” noted Beth Huang, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Voter Table.

“Our democracy is strongest when everyone’s voice can be heard. This bill will help engage the almost 700,000 eligible but unregistered citizens in Massachusetts, strengthening democracy and setting a positive example for other states,” said Jonathan Cohn of Progressive Massachusetts.

Meryl Kessler, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, added:
“The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts applauds today’s vote by the Massachusetts House. Bringing AVR to our state will remove real obstacles to political participation, ensuring that more voices can be heard.”

“Today we thank the Massachusetts House for approving an Automatic Voting Registration (AVR) bill as a new avenue to increase voter participation and accessibility to Massachusetts’ most vulnerable communities,” said Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, Executive Director of MassVOTE.

“Passing this bill is as good as July 4th fireworks. Automatic voter registration will make our democracy better, fairer, more robust, and what better way to celebrate than that?” said Executive Director of MASSPIRG Janet Domenitz.

The Election Modernization Coalition is led by Common Cause Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters or Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, and Progressive Massachusetts. A full list of member organizations can be found here, and more information about AVR can be found here.

LWVMA and Coalition Partners Urge Speaker DeLeo to Bring AVR Bill to a Vote

May 29, 2018/Boston,MA – The League of Women of Massachusetts, its partners in the Election Modernization Coalition, and numerous other organizations, sent a letter to House Speaker Robert DeLeo urging him bring to the floor for a vote the bill to authorize Automatic Voter Registration in Massachusetts, H.4320.

In part, the letter states:  “The end of the session is fast approaching, and we are concerned this bill will run out of time. In order for Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) to be in place for the next Presidential election in 2020, it must be enacted this session — next year would be too late — and that means getting it out of the House and on to the Senate in time to get it to the Governor’s desk before August.”

You can read the letter here.  Media coverage is here.

 

LWVMA Urges Speaker DeLeo to Bring AVR Bill to a Vote

On March 26, 2018, the League of Women of Massachusetts sent a letter to House Speaker Robert DeLeo urging him bring to the floor for a vote the bill to authorize Automatic Voter Registration in Massachusetts, H.4320.  The text of the letter is here:

AVR DeLeo letter LWVMA-FINAL

Secretary of State William Galvin Joins Statewide Groups in Calling for Automatic Voter Registration in Massachusetts

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.

Statewide Groups, AG Healey Ask Legislators to Pass Automatic Voter Registration in Massachusetts

January 31, 2018/BOSTON, MA – Attorney General Maura Healey joined hundreds of citizens and dozens of organizations today in urging the legislature to pass Automatic Voter Registration (H.2091 and S.373) as soon as possible this session. Teachers, veterans, environmentalists, immigrants, and union members were among those who came to the State House from all over to state to support Automatic Voter Registration (AVR).

“Voting is the most basic and essential right in a democracy,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “I am pleased to join Common Cause and the Election Modernization Coalition in making sure that right is available and accessible to all eligible voters in Massachusetts.”

The AVR legislation, introduced by Sen. Cynthia Creem and 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.

The bill has popular and growing support in both legislative chambers, with 84 House co-sponsors and 22 Senate sponsors and received a public hearing before the Joint Committee on Election Laws last summer. The legislation is also endorsed by 61 organizations including environmental, civil rights, consumer, community, labor, and good government groups (see list below).

“The momentum for Automatic Voter Registration is building,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “We had a tremendous show of support today from organizations, individuals, and opinion leaders from every corner of our state who are passionate about giving all Bay Staters a voice in elections. AVR is a small change with a big impact that will make our election system more accurate, secure and efficient. It is critical for the legislature to pass it as soon as possible.”

“AVR removes obstacles to full participation in our democracy and moves us one step forward to ensuring that every eligible voter has a chance to have an equal voice in the political process,” added Meryl Kessler, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.

Carol Rose, executive director, ACLU of Massachusetts said, “Voting rights are under attack.  And, as we say in the streets, ‘What do we do? Stand up, fight back!’  With Washington aggressively peddling voter suppression, this is the time for states to be bold leaders in expanding access to the ballot for every eligible voter. Automatic Voter Registration will knock down an unnecessary barrier and simply let people vote.”

“Massachusetts has played a historic role in American democracy,” said Jonathan Cohn of Progressive Massachusetts. “It’s time for us to deliver on that democratic promise by joining the the ten other states (plus D.C.) that have adopted Automatic Voter Registration.”

“While there’s nothing automatic about passing Automatic Voter Registration into law, the momentum has been building with support from all corners of our state. We hope the Legislature will soon put our state in line with all the others which have already passed this important reform,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG.

“MassVOTE is proud to stand with the Coalition and so many grassroots supporters to continue urging the Legislator to pass this important piece of legislation,” MassVOTE’s Executive Director Cheryl Crawford added.

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 voters participated in the 2016 election because of the reform. Ten 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, and Connecticut.

The Election Modernization Coalition, which organized the Lobby Day, 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.

Join Us for Automatic Voter Registration Lobby Day January 31

The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts and our partners in the Election Modernization Coalition will be hosting a lobby day on January 31st to convince legislators to make Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) a top priority in 2018. Registration and training will take place in Room 428 in the State House (24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02133). Registration begins at 9:30, and the program will run from 10:00-12:30.

AVR is the crucial next step in voting rights. It shifts our voter registration from an opt-in system to an opt-out one, involving more citizens in the political process. It also costs less in the long run and makes voter rolls more accurate and secure. Approximately 680,000 eligible citizens are currently not registered to vote in Massachusetts—Automatic Voter Registration could give them a voice in our democracy.

What is a lobby day? It’s a day when members of the public meet with their representatives at the State House to explain why an issue (in this case, AVR) is so important. We will spend an hour teaching you the tips and tricks to speaking with legislators before sending you off to attend scheduled meetings with your representatives to advocate for this vital reform.

SIGN UP HERE to participate in this lobby day: https://goo.gl/forms/6VlPBSsJ1Gm0NEEq2