VOTES Act Becomes Law in Massachusetts
Vote by mail, early voting, jail-based voting are here to stay!
Voting Rights Advocates Applaud New Expansion to Voting Laws in Massachusetts
Boston, MA — Governor Baker signed the VOTES Act into law today, expanding access to the ballot in Massachusetts.
Voting rights advocates, public interest groups and a network of state and local organizations praised the legislation signed by Governor Baker today. The bill, An Act Fostering Voting Opportunities, Trust, Equity, and Security or the VOTES Act, is the largest expansion of voting access in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in years. The House and Senate passed the final version of the bill last week.
The VOTES Act will make several permanent changes to Massachusetts’ election laws, including: allowing voters to vote by mail without an excuse; expanding early voting options; making sure that eligible voters who are incarcerated are able to request a mail ballot and vote; ensuring that the Commonwealth joins the 30-state Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) to keep voter registration rolls up-to-date; and more. The bill also reduces the voter registration deadline prior to an election from twenty days to ten.
The VOTES Act, sponsored by State Representative John Lawn and Senator Cindy Creem, is strongly supported by the Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition, a coalition of advocacy organizations working to modernize the Commonwealth’s election laws.
“We are thrilled that Governor Baker signed the VOTES Act into law today. We’d like to thank Governor Baker, Senate President Spilka and Speaker Mariano for making voting rights a priority this legislative session,” said Geoff Foster, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “At a time when many states are making it harder to vote, this new law will modernize our elections and make our democracy more accessible and equitable.”
“We are proud Massachusetts is actively supporting voters and appreciate the Governor signing this bill,” said Patricia Comfort, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. “We expect voters to use the mail and early voting options as soon as the Sept. 6 primary election.”
“Voters embraced mail-in voting and expanded early voting in 2020,” said Beth Huang, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Voter Table, “Now that the VOTES Act is law, we will educate voters, especially in communities of color and working-class neighborhoods, about these permanent expansions of voting rights.”
“Voting is the foundation of democracy; it is the right we exercise to protect all others,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Across the country, voting rights are in peril, but Massachusetts is charting a different course. We applaud Massachusetts policymakers for strengthening our democracy and advancing these crucial voting reforms.”
“Whatever sport you’re following right now, signing this bill is a home run, a slam dunk, or a hole in one. All of us win when voting is made more accessible and that’s what the VOTES Act will accomplish,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG. “Our thanks go out to Governor Baker for turning this act into law.”
“We are overjoyed that Governor Baker has signed the VOTES Act into law,” said Vanessa Snow, Policy and Organizing Director at MassVOTE. “Policies included in the VOTES Act, like permanent mail-in voting, expanded early voting, and jail-based voting reforms, will increase accessibility and equity in our elections. We of course wish that Election Day Registration was included in this version of the VOTES Act, but we will continue to fight tirelessly for the reform in the years ahead. We thank Representative John Lawn and Senator Cindy Creem for filing the VOTES Act, as well as Senate President Spilka, House Speaker Mariano, and Governor Baker for supporting the bill.”
The Election Modernization Coalition is made up of Common Cause Massachusetts, ACLU of Massachusetts, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, MASSPIRG, and Lawyers for Civil Rights.