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Our Statement on Reforming Boston's Municipal Elections

On Wednesday, April 28, Boston District 5 City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo introduced two home rule petitions that would reform Boston’s municipal elections. One petition would implement same day voter registration, while the other would expand early voting options, including the ability to vote by mail. Our Executive Director, Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, issued the following statement on this development.

“We are thrilled to see Councilor Arroyo propose these voting reforms. While we ultimately hope to see these policies implemented across all of Massachusetts, we applaud Councilor Arroyo for highlighting these reforms, and what they mean for the city of Boston.

“Last year, Boston embraced the ability to vote early either in-person or by mail. In the September 1 State Primary, 47% of Boston voters cast ballot early, be it in-person or by mail. In the November 3 General Election, that rate climbed to 57%. Boston voters eagerly took advantage of the chance to vote by mail without restriction, whether that was through mailing their ballot via USPS or depositing it in one of the city’s dozen-plus secure drop boxes. The ability to vote early in-person especially benefitted our BIPOC voters, who either lack the same reliable access vote by mail that their white neighbors possess, or trust more in the process of voting in-person.

“Even if Same Day Registration (SDR) would be new for Boston, we know that the policy would benefit both the city and it’s voters. More than 20 states practice the policy, allowing voters to register or update their registration on election day. SDR would especially aid the city’s BIPOC and young voters, who are more likely to experience housing instability, and consequently, more out-of-date voter registration information. SDR also benefits election officials by drastically reducing the need for provisional ballots, reducing costs and labor.

“We are supporting the VOTES Act, currently under consideration on Beacon Hill as H.805 and S.459, which includes all of the provisions mentioned above. However, we are more than happy to see reforms like SDR and early voting generate more discussion. Policies like these are nationally proven to empower BIPOC, low-income, and young voters, all of whom face disproportionate barriers to the ballot box. No longer should arbitrary deadlines or burdensome qualifications impede someone’s right to vote. Voting must be made as accessible and inclusive as possible, both in Boston and across the Commonwealth.”

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