For immediate release: May 15, 2019
Contact: Ian Kea, MassVOTE 617-542-8683
The Election Modernization Coalition Hosts Legislative Briefing on Election Day Registration (EDR)
BOSTON, MA – The Election Modernization hosted a legislative briefing on Wednesday May 15th on Election Day Registration, a policy used in nearly half the states nationwide.
The EDR Legislation introduced by Rep. Jen Benson, Rep. Liz Malia and Sen. Cynthia Creem (H. 636, H. 685 & S. 396) would establish a system for voting eligible citizens that would allow them with proof of residency to register or fix errors in their current registration on Election Day and during the early voting period. Approximately 100,000 + eligible Massachusetts voters are turned away from the polls each election cycle due to an outdated 20 day registration cutoff or from being unable to change simple errors in their registration such as an apartment number or misspelling in their name.
“We have embraced EDR for forty-six years. Maine voters, like voters in the Commonwealth, are patriots, and are jealous guardians of their sovereign right to self-governance through our democratic systems. It is our view in Maine that elections do not belong to election officials or to elected officials; elections belong to the people, and we are proud to have cast aside any bureaucratic barriers that bankrupt the voter of their rights without clear constitutional need to preserve the integrity of the election process,” says Matthew Dunlap, Maine Secretary of State.
The legislation has enjoyed significant support from state leaders such as Secretary of State Bill Galvin and Attorney General Maura Healey. On the federal level the entire Massachusetts Congressional Delegation has casted their support for HR1 which includes EDR.
“Election Day registration is fundamental to the survival of our democratic functions. We must ensure that any eligible Massachusetts voter who comes out to vote has every ability to cast a ballot,” says Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, Executive Director of MassVOTE.
"Implementing Election Day Registration in Massachusetts is a critical step to curbing deep structural barriers to the ballot box for voters of color in the Commonwealth," says Sophia Hall, Supervising Attorney at Lawyers for Civil Rights.
"When poll watching last November, we saw countless people turned away from the polls or issued provisional ballots because they moved recently. Election Day Registration will help thousands of voters cast their ballots, including young people moving to Massachusetts in search of opportunities and communities of color, working families, and low-income people displaced from their homes because of rising rents," says Beth Huang, Director of the Massachusetts Voter Table.
“Our democracy is strongest when everyone has the ability to participate, to make their voices heard. However, given the stress of school, work, family, and myriad other commitments, many voters may first start to learn about an election after the registration window has already passed. As our neighbors in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Vermont show, Election Day Registration is a sensible and proven next step in expanding voting rights,” says Jonathan Cohn, Issues Chair of Progressive Massachusetts.
"20 states have already instituted Election Day registration. Massachusetts should not lag behind when it comes to the basics of democracy---access to voting. We look forward to catching up and enabling people to register to vote on Election Day," says Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MassPIRG.
"The League of Women Voters strongly supports Election Day Registration to make it easier for citizens to participate in our democracy. At a time when states across the country are passing laws reducing access to the ballot box, it is important for Massachusetts to continue to lead in positive election reforms," said Mary Ann Ashton, President, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.
"The Massachusetts legislature has passed many new laws to ensure a better experience for voters and remove artificial barriers to participation, such as Early Voting and Automatic Voter Registration. Election Day Registration would build on that record of success and ensure that no eligible voter is denied the ability to cast a ballot." says Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts.
The Election Modernization Coalition is led by ACLU of Massachusetts, Common Cause Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters or Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, and Progressive Massachusetts.