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Press Release: SJC Ruling on 20 Day Voter Registration Period

Updated: Jul 3, 2018


Contact: Alec Loftus,, 617-595-8872

MassVOTE Criticizes SJC Ruling on Voter Registration Deadline Case

BOSTON -- Monday, July 2, 2018 – MassVOTE, a lead plaintiff in the case contesting cutting off voter registration 20 days in advance of an election the opportunity to register and vote, criticized today’s ruling of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) as a setback to efforts to eliminate the state the state’s outdated 20-day voter registration cutoff and ensure that all eligible voters who want to vote is not barred from doing so due to a fixable issues with their registration.

MassVOTE says the SJC erred today in overruling the Superior Court decision that determined the state's advance cutoff is unconstitutionally disenfranchises thousands of Massachusetts voters. The Superior Court cited, as an example, the over 100,000 eligible voters interesting in voting could not due to an arbitrary cut off in the 2014 state election, an advance cutoff that 16 states have now eliminated.

“The SJC missed the point by focusing just simply on the registration deadline rather the complete cutoff of any opportunity to register and vote it really is”, said Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, Executive Director of MassVOTE. "No one is against a deadline for a mail registration. What’s wrong in is not seeing the harm in disenfranchising 2018 is the inability for an eligible voter to correct a mistake in their registration or a missed deadline when they go to vote as allowed in 16 states.

Four states including Minnesota and Wisconsin have had same day voter registration policies for decades. A dozen states like Colorado, Illinois, and Utah have also successfully enacted the policy the plaintiffs seek. Four in New England, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont all allow voters to register or fix a registration in-person at their election office, poll or a designated site when they go to vote, with no arbitrary cut-off like Massachusetts has.

In its decision the SJC noted the important role of the legislature enacting election laws review to ensure they serve a public purpose. MassVOTE and its partners will work with the legislature legislators, voters, and other stakeholders to have Massachusetts join the many states with SDR policy to safeguard a full opportunity of all eligible and interested voters to vote.

We expect a same day voter registration policy to be top on the agenda later this year or by January to be in place for 2019”, Crawford continued. “Now we join others in urging passing of AVR – a compatible but notably separate reform that together will make Massachusetts a national leader in democracy and voting.”

States with same day voter registration policies: Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and District of Columbia.

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