Announcing the FARE Act
Updated: Sep 3, 2021
Boston – On Wednesday, February 17, Senator Joe Boncore of Winthrop, Representative Frank A. Moran of Lawrence, and Representative Chynah Tyler of Boston filed “An Act Establishing Free Access to Ride to Elections in Massachusetts,” also known as the “FARE Act.” The FARE Act, which MassVOTE supports, would establish system-wide, fare-free service for all riders on bus, subway, and trolley services run by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) and each regional transit authority on the day of a state primary and state election. As a result, millions of Massachusetts voters would be able to ride to the polls and cast their ballots in an easily accessible manner free of cost.
“We are thrilled to see Sen. Boncore, Leader Moran, and Rep. Tyler file the FARE Act, and we are thrilled to support it,” said Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, the Executive Director of MassVOTE. “By making public transit free on election day, the state would take an immediate, dramatic step to make voting more accessible. The FARE Act would especially benefit the state’s Black and brown, low-income, and immigrant communities, who struggle with lower voter turnout rates and heavily rely on public transit. Passing the FARE Act is critical to ensuring equity in our electoral system.”
“The FARE Act ensures that, in Massachusetts, the right to vote will not be obstructed by a lack of affordable transportation,” said Senator Joe Boncore (D-Winthrop). “Those who face compounding obstacles to ballot access in communities with the lowest voter turnout will benefit most from the FARE Act. Free public transit on Election Day is the equitable solution. I look forward to partnering with Representative Moran, Representative Tyler, and MassVOTE on this important legislation.”
"It is an unfortunate reality that many voters, especially those residing in Gateway Communities such as Lawrence, are unable to participate in the democratic process due to socioeconomic hinderances such as transportation access,” said Division Leader Frank A. Moran (D – Lawrence). “The FARE Act will bolster our Commonwealth’s commitment to providing residents with equitable access to their polling locations, while increasing voter participation in typically low turnout communities."
"I am proud to be putting forth this much needed legislation with Leader Moran and Senator Boncore. We know that Black, Latino, communities of color, and low income communities across our Commonwealth face insurmountable barriers around access to the ballot boxes and in result, we continue to have low voter turnout in these communities,” said Representative Chynah Tyler (D-Boston). “The FARE Act is an important tool in tearing down barriers to voting and takes an important step towards ensuring equitable elections by providing free transit on election day."
Sen. Boncore, Rep. Moran, and Rep. Tyler filed this bill in light of the 2020 elections, which saw disappointingly low voter turnout in the state’s more diverse, urban, lower-income communities. While suburbs such as Wayland, Lexington, and Dover saw voter turnout well above 85%, cities like Springfield, Lawrence, and New Bedford achieved voter turnout rates that barely surpassed 50%. These communities have long struggled to have their voices heard, and the COVID19 pandemic has only exacerbated this struggle. Implementing the FARE Act is one step the state must take to make voting more accessible to the state’s marginalized communities, especially its Black and brown, low-income, and immigrant populations.
The bill is SD.1557 in the Senate and HD.2474 in the House.
MassVOTE is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization dedicated to voting rights, voter education, and social justice.