By Matt Murphy / State House News Service
MARCH 19, 2020.....House and Senate leaders plan to postpone four special elections scheduled for the end of the month, and will pass legislation on Monday to give cities and towns increased flexibility to delay local elections planned for the spring and allow voting by mail.
Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Robert DeLeo both announced Thursday afternoon that they would take up an elections bill on Monday.
The step comes as the calls from candidates and voting access advocates to delay certain deadlines, including signaturing gathering requirements, have mounted in light of government orders for people to keep their distance from one another to slow the spread of coronavirus.
“The ability to hold elections is fundamental to the continued functioning of our democracy. We are also aware that we must protect the health and safety of the public during this unprecedented global pandemic,” Spilka said in a statement.
“As such, the Senate has determined that moving forward with traditional elections at this time would put our voters, election workers, volunteers and others in our cities and towns at excessive risk.”
The sentiment expressed by Spilka stands in sharp contrast to that put forward just days ago by Secretary of State William Galvin, the state’s chief elections officer, who said he believes that Massachusetts could still safely conduct in-person voting.