2021 and Beyond: MassVOTE’s Policy Plan
To brace our elections for COVID19, MassVOTE helped craft and pass An Act Relative to Voting Options In Response to COVID-19. This Act included some of the broadest electoral reforms in Massachusetts history, including vote by mail, expanded early voting, and a reduced voter registration window. As a result, the Commonwealth saw record voter turnout in both the September 1 State Primary and November 3 General Election. Unfortunately, these reforms expire at the end of the year. In 2021 and beyond, we’ll fight to make these reforms permanent, as well as implement new ones that ensure our elections may place in the most equitable and inclusive manner possible. The VOTES Act is one way we can make that possible.
Make 2020 Reforms Permanent
In 2020, all Massachusetts voters could vote by mail, as they automatically received an application for the September primary and November general. Voters could also vote early in-person, with the primary including a one-week early voting period, and the general including a two-week period. In 2021 and beyond, vote by mail and expanded early voting should become the norm. Yet the state should go farther by automatically mailing all voters a ballot and ensuring equitable access to early voting sites.
Same Day Registration
Currently in Massachusetts, individuals must register to vote or update their registration at least 20 days before an election to vote in said election. This routinely impedes more than 100,000 individuals from casting their ballots, be that because they recently moved and did not update their registration, or are new to the electoral process entirely. Same day registration, however, would solve this issue by allowing people to register or update their registration leading up to and on election day. We must bring this to Massachusetts.
Boston has not redrawn its ward lines since 1920. Since then, the population has changed dramatically, relocating and becoming more diverse. But because the wards and precincts have not changed with the times, neither have the polling locations. As a result, voters in areas including Chinatown and the North End must wait in dramatically longer lines than other Boston residents to vote. Re-precincting would allow the city to adapt to the times, making the voting process far more inclusive. We must make this a reality.