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

LWVMA Responds to Announcement of September Primary Date by Secretary Galvin

January 10, 2018/Boston, MA–Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin has announced that the date for the 2018 Massachusetts primary election will be Tuesday, September 4, the day after Labor Day.  The Secretary’s announcement included that he is filing legislation for a period of five days of early voting ahead of the election, and seeking funding for local elections officials to support the costs of early voting.

While the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts (LWVMA) is pleased that Secretary Galvin has embraced our recommendation to extend early voting to the primary and that he recognizes the benefits of early voting for voters, we are disappointed in the timing of the primary, which is earlier than the dates LWVMA recommended.  Voting on the day after Labor Day will prove challenging for voters in the Commonwealth, especially for families preparing children for the start of school, and for candidates who are eager to get their message out to voters.

We hope that the legislature will support Secretary Galvin’s legislation for early voting in this and future state primary elections and that he will be successful in identifying funding to support early voting.  We also hope that he and his office will be prepared to roll out a robust public relations campaign to make voters aware of the date of the primary, and options for early and absentee voting.

LWV Statement on the Shut-down of the ‘Election Integrity’ Commission

January 3, 2018/Washington, DC – League of Women Voters president, Chris Carson issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s Executive Order terminating his ‘election integrity’ commission.

“Today voters win. We are pleased that the Trump Administration has at last dissolved their discredited ‘election integrity’ commission.

“As has been said time and time again, the purpose of this effort was to justify President Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 elections. This travesty of a commission was nothing more than a tactic of voter suppression and an unnecessary distraction from legitimate threats to our democracy.

“It is now time for our leaders to focus on the the very real work of securing our elections against foreign interference, while making sure all eligible voters are free to exercise their right to vote.”

Contact: Caitlin Rulien | 202-263-1329 | crulien@lwv.org

LWVMA Submits Comments to Secretary of Commonwealth Regarding 2018 Primary Date, Urges Expansion of Early Voting

January 2, 2018/BOSTON, MA — The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts has urged the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the legislature to expand early voting to all statewide elections, including primaries.

In comments submitted in response to the Secretary’s request for input on potential dates for the September 2018 state primary election, the League noted that the conflicts between potential primary dates and the Jewish holidays could be resolved by offering early voting.

“This situation is a perfect example of why the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Legislature should expand early voting for at least all statewide elections, including primaries. The availability of early voting would allow the Commonwealth to continue with this primary as is routine on September 18 while allowing ample opportunity for those observing the Jewish holidays to vote in advance,” Mary Ann Ashton, president of the state League, said in the letter.

The League asked the Secretary to set the date as late as possible to allow voters to become familiar with the candidates after the summer vacation period.  The League also urged the Secretary to devote adequate resources to publicizing the election date, particularly if it is on a Thursday, and the availability of absentee ballots well in advance of the election.

The League said it was “disappointed” that the public comment period on the primary date was announced on Dec. 22 and ran until Jan. 2, the two-week holiday period when many who might wish to comment might be unaware of the opportunity to comment or unable to do so.  The League asked that the public comment period be extended to permit additional input.

After Low-Turnout Election, Coalition Calls for Automatic Voter Registration in Massachusetts

Nov. 9, 2017/BOSTON, MA — Citing very low voter turnout in Tuesday’s municipal elections, advocates from the Election Modernization gathered at the State House in Boston today to urge the Massachusetts legislature to adopt Automatic Voter Registration. The coalition is led by Common Cause Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, and Progressive Massachusetts.

Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) 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. The AVR legislation, introduced by Sen. Cynthia Creem and Rep. Peter Kocot, has popular support in both legislative chambers, with 80 House co-sponsors and 22 Senate sponsors, and received a public hearing before the Joint Committee on Election Laws this summer.

“In this moment, when the health of our democracy is a great concern, and the security of elections is under scrutiny, our legislature can adopt a policy change that will make voting simpler, reduce government bureaucracy, and enhance democracy,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “AVR could register nearly 700,000 eligible Massachusetts citizens into and give them an opportunity to have their voices heard. At the same time, it would update and modernize our election system by increasing its accuracy, security, and efficiency.”

The legislation is also endorsed by 53 organizations including environmental, civil rights, consumer, community, labor, and good government groups (see list below).

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. 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 League strongly supports automatic voter registration as the next logical step in the modernization of the electoral process here in Massachusetts,” Meryl Kessler, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, said. “AVR will improve the accuracy of voter rolls, create a more efficient and reliable voting system, help control the costs of voter registration over time, and improve the voting process on Election Day.”

“Automatic voter registration is a step in the right direction,” added Cheryl Clyburn Crawford of MassVOTE. “It would remove one of the barriers that disproportionately affects our most disenfranchised communities. We strongly believe that automatic voter registration in Massachusetts will increase voter participation and turnout while continuing to modernize our electoral process.”

“This is a bipartisan, common sense, 21st century bill which will make voter registration more accessible, more secure and less costly in the Commonwealth,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG. “We have Republican and Democrat supporters in the Legislature, while the Republican Governor of Illinois signed a similar bill into law this summer. In a time of hyper-partisanship in this country, we’re inspired to call for this bill’s passage.”

Advocacy organizations behind the effort, including Common Cause Massachusetts, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, Progressive Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice have worked together for many years to promote voting access and reform. They see automatic voter registration as a continuation of earlier efforts in the state, like early voting, to improve access to the ballot. Early voting was a resounding success; In its first debut, over one million voters cast their ballots early in October 2016, accounting for over 22% of registered voters and 35% of those that voted.

53 (and counting) endorsing organizations (alphabetical order):

Action Together Western Mass

American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts

AFSC – Cambridge

Berkshire Democratic Brigades

Berkshire Women’s Action Group

Black Directors Network

Boston Democratic Ward 4 Committee

Boston Teachers Union

Cambridge Democratic City Cmmtt

CAST (Cambridge Area Stronger Together)

Clean Water Action

Coalition for Social Justice

College Democrats of MA

Common Cause Massachusetts

Corporate Accountability International

Democracy for America

Democracy Matters

ELM Action Fund

ForwardMA

Garrison Trotter Neighborhood Association

Green Tea Party

Indivisable Pittsfield

Jewish Association for Law and Social Action (JALSA)

Jewish Community Relations Council

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice

League of Women Voters MA

Lift Every Vote Berkshires

Mass Law Reform Institute

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Organization

Massachusetts Jobs with Justice

Massachusetts Peace Action

Massachusetts Sierra Club

Massachusetts Teachers Association

Massachusetts Voter Table

MASSPIRG

Mass Affordable Housing Alliance

MassVOTE

NAACP Boston

National Association of Social Workers, Massachusetts Chapter

Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts Education Fund

New England United for Justice

Our Revolution Cambridge

PHENOM (Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts)

Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts

Progressive Democrats of America Boston chapter

Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts

Progressive Massachusetts

SEIU Local 509

SEIU Massachusetts State Council

Sierra Club

Small Planet Institute

Union of Minority Neighborhoods

Young Democrats of Massachusetts

Election Modernization Coalition Statement on Illinois Governor Rauner’s Signing of Automatic Voter Registration Bill

Boston, MA/August 28, 2017–Today, Illinois became the tenth state, along with the District of Columbia, to successfully enact automatic voter registration (AVR). Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed into a law a bill that creates more accessible and secure elections by automatically registering voters unless they opt out of the program. The bill won bipartisan support and passed unanimously in the legislature earlier this year.

The new law will add roughly one million new eligible voters to the voter rolls. Similar laws in other states have been proven to increase turnout and make elections more secure by modernizing the voter registration process. It is a common sense and long overdue reform.

As organizations that have worked tirelessly together for many years to remove barriers to voting, we applaud the action of Governor Rauner and the Illinois state legislature and call on the Massachusetts legislature to pass Automatic Voter Registration in our state. As the cradle of liberty, Massachusetts should lead the way towards removing unnecessary barriers for voting and ensuring that every Bay Stater has a voice in our democracy.

Pam Wilmot, Common Cause Massachusetts

Meryl Kessler, League of Women Voters, Massachusetts

Beth Huang, Mass Voter Table

Janet Domenitz, MASSPIRG

Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, MassVOTE

Jonathan Cohn, Progressive Massachusetts

A pdf of this statement is available here.