Yesterday’s Globe Editorial Bottle bill, election laws shouldn’t get lost in last-minute frenzy on Beacon Hill is spot on.
As the end of the session looms, lawmakers should be sure to pass these measures:
Voting. Each of the four elements of the proposed Election Laws Reform bill has been sensibly crafted to expand the number of eligible voters or ensure that every vote cast is counted correctly.
For starters, 16- and 17-year-olds would be allowed to pre-register. Next, voters would have an opportunity to download and print out voter registration forms. The most ambitious part of the bill mandates random, hand-count audits in 3 percent of the state’s precincts. Many states conduct such audits to ensure the integrity of the process. Massachusetts should join them; states may not know of problems with voting machines until they look for them. Under the bill, chief election officers in each municipality would also be required to attend an annual training. The House has seen the wisdom of this approach. Now the Senate needs to do its part.
Campaign finance. Before 2010, state and federal law forbade corporations from making independent campaign expenditures; after the US Supreme Court struck down such laws, corporations needn’t even disclose this spending to the public. A bill to mandate such disclosures in state and local elections came out of committee only late Tuesday afternoon. But as independent advertising looms larger in politics, voters deserve to know who’s behind it.
The Election Law Reform Act (already passed by the House) and the Massachusetts Disclosure Act are common sense reforms that the legislature must pass this session. Without the Disclosure Act corporations will remain the only entities exempt from disclosing political spending. Without Election Law Reform our elections remain vulnerable to voting machine error.