The VOTES Act
In February 2021, we partnered with advocates and legislators to file the VOTES Act. More formally known as "An Act Fostering Voting Opportunities, Trust, Equity, and Security", the bill is sponsored by Rep. John Lawn in the House of Representatives (H.805) and Sen. Cindy Creem in the Senate (S.459). The VOTES Act is one of the boldest electoral reforms introduced in Massachusetts state history. Building off the the success of the 2020 Elections, it would make vote by mail permanent, expand early in-person voting options, implement same day voter registration, expand access to the ballot for eligible incarcerated citizens, and more.
make vote by mail and expanded early voting permanent
Due to the COVID19 pandemic in 2020, Massachusetts introduced vote by mail and expanded early voting for both the September 1 State Primary and November 3 General Election. These reforms, meant to confront an unprecedented crisis, allowed for unprecedented gains in our democracy. In both elections, the majority of voters cast ballots either early in person or by mail. Both elections also saw the highest voter turnout in decades. Yet these reforms expired at the end of 2020. To correct this, the VOTES Act would make them permanent.
implement same day voter registration
The state voter registration deadline is 20 days before each election. If voters do not register or update their registration prior to this deadline, they probably won't be able to vote. This unfair policy routinely impacts more than 100,000 Massachusetts voters. It disproportionately impacts low-income individuals who move frequently, as well as college students, who are new to their respective communities. Implementing same day registration would dismantle barriers inhibiting these voters, and all Massachusetts voters, from having their voices heard.
Increase accessibility for eligible incarcerated citizens
Under Massachusetts law, individuals that are incarcerated under pretrial detention or a non-felony conviction still have the right to vote. Yet this is rarely made possible for prisoners, as sheriff's departments routinely fail to provide inmates with the necessary information, and local election officials lack a comprehensive understanding of the necessary regulations. The VOTES Act would correct these mistakes by taking steps that include increasing voter education efforts in prisons and providing inmates the resources to vote absentee.
Maximize electoral security and integrity
The VOTES Act would implement a number of technical measures that increase electoral security and integrity. It would, for example, bolster the automatic voter registration process. It would also set a hard deadline for the state to join the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which would allow the state to share electoral information with states and keep more accurate voter rolls. Additionally, the VOTES Act would institute risk-limiting audits, further protecting our elections from fraud and inaccuracy.