Lowering Voting Age in Mass
In November 2022, the Boston City Council approved a petition to lower the voting age to allow 16 and 17 year olds the ability to vote in municipal elections. The council voted 9-4 in support of the petition. While this is a step in the right direction, the home rule petition still needs to be signed by Mayor Michelle Wu before it can be passed on to the Massachusetts Legislature. In 2019, state lawmakers introduced the EMPOWER Act, which consisted of twin bills (H 720 and S 389) which would give municipal governments the power to lower the voting age without seeking a home rule petition. This act sat at the Joint Committee on Election Laws for a year, and eventually no action was taken. In 2023, MassVOTE will continue to support lowering the voting age to allow
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. The VOTES Act has made them permanent.
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 corrects 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 will implement a number of technical measures that increase electoral security and integrity. It will, 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 will institute risk-limiting audits, further protecting our elections from fraud and inaccuracy.