Front Page News, Improving Elections

VOTES Act Virtual Lobby Day Draws Hundreds

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.

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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.