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MassVOTE Statement - January 14, 2021




Contact: Alex Psilakis, Policy and Communications Manager

apsilakis@massvote.org | (508) 641-9761

January 14, 2021


STATEMENT: MassVOTE Calls for the Elimination of Unnecessary Special Elections in Boston


Boston, MA – On Thursday, January 7, it was announced that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh would be joining the incoming Biden administration as Secretary of Labor. If Mayor Walsh is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, or chooses to resign, before March 5, then the city must hold a series of special elections to fill his seat. Yet the city is already set to hold its regularly-scheduled mayoral elections this fall. As a result, MassVOTE joins Boston City Councilor Arroyo, Secretary of State Galvin, and a number of other Massachusetts officials in calling for the elimination of these special elections.


MassVOTE opposes holding these special elections for four reasons.


First: voter fatigue and confusion. Forcing voters to turn out in two preliminary and two general elections would inevitably lead to voter fatigue, confusion, and consequently, lower voter turnout. This would especially impact the city’s Black and brown, immigrant, and low-income communities, who already face substantive barriers to the ballot box. Sticking with one preliminary election in September and one general election in November would best serve these voters, and all of the city’s voters.


Second: the ongoing COVID19 pandemic. Last week, Boston suffered 6,591 active COVID19 cases. Bostonians continue to die each day. Though COVID19 has been with us for more than a year, and vaccine distribution is increasing, we clearly do not have the virus under control. It continues to wreak havoc on the public health, economic, and housing sectors of Boston and Massachusetts. The virus is very likely to pose a threat when the special elections take place, and, as a result, reinforces why we should not hold said special elections.


Third: cost. The cost of running each special election in Boston is approximately $750,000. These funds cover dozens of polling locations, which require equipment and personnel. To run two special elections would cost Boston at least $1.5 million. Instead of going to two unnecessary elections, these funds would be much better spent elsewhere.


Fourth: precedent. This past December, Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera announced that he would be stepping down to serve as the president and CEO of MassDevelopment. In the following weeks, the city of Lawrence passed a home rule petition, which the state passed, to skip a special election to fill his seat. They did so because the regularly-scheduled elections were already scheduled for this fall. The City Council President, Kendrys Vasquez, will serve until a new mayor is elected in November. The state should take the same steps with Boston as it did Lawrence, eliminating unnecessary special elections.


For the four reasons noted above, we urge officials to eliminate these unnecessary special elections. Doing so would not only empower the voters of Boston, but save the city time, money, and effort that could be better spent elsewhere.


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MassVOTE is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization dedicated to voting rights, voter education, and social justice.

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