In May 2014, the Massachusetts legislature passed an historic reform of our state’s election laws. As part of the new law, they established early voting starting with the November 2016 election. Early voting is one important way to expand access to our democracy, giving people whose work or family obligations preclude them from standing in line, or even getting to the polls on Election Day, more opportunities to vote.
Our early voting period willl start 11 business days preceding the election. Within that period, municipalities are required to have at least one voting site open during normal business hours. But beyond these simple specifications, there is a great deal of flexibility in how the law will be implemented.
In order to help ensure the success of early voting, Common Cause completed a report detailing the best practices for early voting administration in other states. From that, the Election Modernization Coalition has drawn up a series of recommend standards for municipalities implementing the law. Based on these, we are now hosting the inaugural Early Voting Challenge, a contest to encourage local officials to implement early voting so that it meets its goals: easing access to the ballot for Massachusetts voters, shortening lines at polling locations, and improving the voting experience.
In 2016, Election Day is November 8th, so early voting will be available from October 24th through November 4th, with October 29-30th as the only weekend option.
For an ongoing round-up of news coverage for the Challenge, go here.
To watch a recording of our latest activist training session, go here.
For a fact sheet on the policy, go here.