MARCH 2019 NEWSLETTER
Updated: Apr 19, 2019
THE NEW VOTER INITIATIVE
MassVOTE is putting the final touches on its new and improved voter outreach program. The aim of the initiative is to welcome new voters and maintain contact with registered voters throughout the years. The program strives to increase voter registration while also keeping voters active and informed for every election thereafter.
The new voter kit includes numerous items from voting resources to swag (t-shirts, buttons & or a bag). A kit will show voters individually who their reps are, where they vote, what is on the ballot, what certain positions do and much more for an informed electorate. After the initial kit is sent, voters from then on out will be receiving quarterly mailings with continued resources dedicated to aiding their path to the ballot box with confidence.
YCL Director J. Cottle believes the goal is to "enhance the experience and create habitual and informed voters for life."
The new initiative will launch in time for the 2019 municipal elections.
YCL SPOTLIGHT: MARIANNA
What is needed to make voting easier?
"I think that there are several things to be done in order to make voting easier. First off, I think that in certain circumstances, voting should be done online. Almost everyone has access to the internet or a mobile device. We certainly have the technology to create a program to allow voters to safely vote online, so why not? It’s definitely a lot more convenient to a lot of people. It could also possibly decrease the recent stigma around voting as it is commonly said of people around the country that their “vote doesn’t matter.” For specifically my community, there could be an improvement of the voting precincts. The precincts around me are schools that already need major renovations. I also notice that the technology there could be updated for faster voting time, which would also prevent long waiting lines. I also noticed the lack of officials there to help voters. There needs to be a lot more regulation in precincts because there are new voters every year and they don’t usually come in with prior knowledge on the experience of voting. "
How do you remain non-partisan in your role as a YCL?
"In a job where opinions can easily be manipulated, it is important for yourself to remain unbiased. For some, it can be hard but you must remember that the audience you are attempting to reach is diversified in different thought. You want to have the ability to appeal to any and everyone. You must know that to gain all the support you can, it is crucial to remain as neutral as possible. That is how I think of non-partisan as a Young Civic Leader. At work, I try my best to put aside my opinions and stay open-minded to others' opinions, no matter how different they may be. My role as a YCL is not to change or distort ideologies, but rather inspire and inform on civics, politics and community engagement."
BOSTON CENSUS KICKOFF
Mimi Ramos, Executive Director of New England United for Justice is a CEI Grantee of MassVOTE and a well-known community figurehead. On April 1st Mimi gave the opening remarks as well as MC'd for the city-wide Boston census kickoff at the East Boston Public Library.
The Census affects a variety of community needs, from proper school funding to ensuring fair re-redistricting lines. Every person not included in the census equates to over $2,000 in lost federal dollars for Massachusetts.
Ramos described the event as crucial to the next 10 years of success for our schools, community services and so much more.
As of now the Massachusetts House of Representatives has dedicated an additional 2 million in resources for census outreach.
MASSVOTE TALKS PRECINCTS AT BOSTON CITY HALL
The Boston City-Council Committee on Government Operations requested MassVOTE to testify in regards to proposed changes to the city's precincts. Currently, the city is enduring long wait times to vote due to overpopulated precincts. Boston has not formally re-drawn its ward lines since 1920 and has a unique and archaic exemption from doing so.
As of 2018, the average precinct among registered voters in Boston contained 1,620 registered voters. Precincts in Chinatown have an average of over 5,000 along with other areas of downtown including the South End, North End, Beacon Hill and City Hall areas. This data fails to account for the eligible voting population so numbers are potentially higher.
Policy & Communications Manager Ian Kea said, "Sub-precincts are band-aid solution to this issue. If we want to take this issue head-on we must go back to the board once the 2020 Census concludes and consider Boston's rapidly shifting demographics. These proposals are only short term solutions to a bigger issue. Look to Colorado, Oregon, and Washington where vote-by-mail is offered. Vote by mail would significantly reduce costs of administration but would also cure the plague of long lines at the polls. A vote-by-mail system would notify voters of elections, allow them to vote from their homes and not interrupt their hectic schedules with a stop to the precinct. In the states mentioned nearly 70% of the population casts their ballot by mail, they can even drop it off the day of the election up till 8PM at a drop box center just like sending a postcard. If we want to make voting easier on both administration and for voters, vote-by-mail needs to be pushed by our Councilors to our representatives on Beacon Hill."
The City Council passed the sub-precincting plan last week and are awaiting approval from the state in the form of a home-rule petition filed by Mayor Walsh.