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Democracy Denied: A Town Hall Discussion on Incarceration and Political Power in MA

June 29, 2021:

Tomorrow, June 30th, we'll be joining our partners in the Democracy Behind Bars coalition for a critical event: Democracy Denied: A Town Hall Discussion on Incarceration & Political Power in Massachusetts. This event, which will discuss the importance of expanding ballot access for eligible incarcerated individuals, will feature key speakers, including NFL superstars and racial justice advocates Jason and Devin McCourty. It will also spotlight state Senator Adam Hinds and state Representative Liz Miranda.

But why does this issue matter?

As you probably know, closing the voter turnout gap is one of our primary objectives at MassVOTE. We seek to boost voter turnout rates in traditionally low turnout, underserved communities so community members may drive the change they seek. One of these communities is relatively small in size and goes virtually unmentioned in most conversations around voting rights. Yet this community faces numerous, sizable barriers to the polls that make voting virtually impossible. The community: eligible incarcerated voters.

Currently in Massachusetts, those incarcerated pretrial or on non-felony convictions still have the right to vote. We estimate this amounts to 5,000-7,000 people. But even though eligible incarcerated voters have this right, they are rarely allowed to practice it. For example, jail officials routinely prevent incarcerated individuals from receiving the necessary election-related materials, like absentee ballots and applications.

We aim to change that. Over the past few months, we've been promoting "An Act to Protect the Voting Rights of Eligible Incarcerated People" (H.836 and S.474). This bill would ensure that eligible incarcerated individuals have expanded, equitable access to the polls.

We'll be promoting the bill at tomorrow night's town hall, and we hope to see you there. Register now!

- All of us at MassVOTE

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