Governor Deval Patrick signs election modernization bill

Good stuff, long overdue. - promoted by david

Today Governor Deval Patrick signed into law significant reforms to modernize our elections and expand voting rights here in Massachusetts. For the first time in decades Massachusetts can now call itself a national leader in ensuring free, fair and accessible elections. The law H.3788 enacts online voter registration, early voting, pre-registration of 16 year olds, post-election audits of voting equipment, and reforms to inactive voters. This is a proud day for democracy in Massachusetts.

With so many other states repealing voting rights reforms and passing new restrictive voting laws, the legislature and the Governor should be commended for taking a strong stand to protect and expand voting rights here in Massachusetts.

Pre-registration and online voter registration will help thousands of unregistered citizens in Massachusetts make their voices heard on Election Day. Massachusetts joins seven other states that allows 16 year-olds to pre-register to vote and 23 states that have passed online voter registration. Early voting will make exercising the franchise that much easier for so many voters whose busy work schedules make voting during regular hours difficult or impossible. Thirty three other states allow in-person voting before Election Day. And random audits of election equipment will help ensure that all of our votes are properly counted. Twenty-five other states have post-election audit requirements.

A 2011 study by Rock the Vote, an organization that engages young people in voting, looked at voter registration and other election laws in all 50 states. The study ranked Massachusetts’ voting system 42nd in the country. But once all the provisions of this law are in effect, Massachusetts’ ranking will improve dramatically to 10th in the nation.

And yet, there is still even more we can do to reduce voter disenfranchisement. Two critical reforms – Election Day registration and permanent or portable registration – will not become law this year. These reforms have proven to be the most effective policies we have to increase voter participation on Election Day.


9 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. A Victory for Democracy1

    All over the county, the GOP has been cynically making it more difficult for people to vote. The Mass GOP even rigged their own convention’s voting process.

    We have more work to do, but this legislation is a victory for democracy.

    Besides, it’s really nice to see the legislature accomplish something that is positive.

  2. A Great Step, but More Needed

    Kudos for the Gov. and Legislature for passing this bill. BUT the job is not finished. Massachusetts should have election-day registration … just like Maine, Connecticut, and New Hampshire! Indeed, Maine passed its election-day registration law in 1973! New Hampshire in 1996. Certainly, we can match these states in desire to encourage electoral participation by all. And while early voting and voting by mail are great, cities and towns should be mandated to expand voting hours to include at least some evenings and weekends. Let’s show the Red States what Democracy really looks like!

    • Did they even shorten the waiting period?

      I agree, same day registration is the gold standard, but even reducing the delay from 17(?) days to something shorter would really help.

  3. Worker Bee Bene

    As a long-time poll warden, I am pleased for the crews. The old law made no provision for inspectors, clerks and wardens. We’ve had to somehow race from our assigned polling place to where we vote. That often was hard or impossible on lunch break, and workers start an hour before polls open, then go until an hour or so after they close.

    I could never understand why being a poll worker wasn’t as good a justification as being out of town on election day for absentee voting.

  4. Why no same day?

    If you ask me, same day registration is the holy grail, so to speak. Anyone have any insight into why it wasn’t included in this bill?

    • My understanding is that the Senate bill had it

      But the House bill did not. It came out in conference committee because it wasn’t going to pass the House. Which, for the thousandth time this session, is shameful and can be laid at the feet of House “leadership.”

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Sat 29 Apr 11:30 AM