One Hundred Citizens Attend Automatic Voter Registration Lobby Day

    Media Contact
  • pam wilmot
Advocates voice support for modernizing elections in Massachusetts through adopting Automatic Voter Registration

BOSTON, MA — Advocates for modernizing Massachusetts’ elections showed up in force for a lobby day on Beacon Hill today, held by the Election Modernization Coalition led by Common Cause Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, and Progressive Massachusetts. Citizen activists from 41 cities and towns and 55 State Representative districts attended: Acton, Amherst, Andover, Arlington, Beverly, Boston, Brockton, Brookline, Cambridge, Charlestown, Chelmsford, Chelsea, Eastham, Georgetown, Gloucester, Hingham, Jamaica Plain, Kingston, Lexington, Marblehead, Mattapoisett, Medford, Milford, Millville, Needham, Newton, North Dartmouth, Norwood, Plymouth, Quincy, Roxbury, Salem, Somerville, South Dennis, South Hamilton, Sudbury, Topsfield, Waltham, Wareham, Watertown, Westborough, and Westwood.

Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) would establish a system for eligible citizens in Massachusetts to automatically register to vote when they interact with a state agency like the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The AVR legislation, introduced by Sen. Cynthia Creem and Rep. Peter Kocot, has popular support in both legislative chambers, with 80 House co-sponsors and 22 Senate sponsors and received a public hearing before the Joint Committee on Election Laws earlier this month.

The legislation is also endorsed by 48 organizations including environmental, civil rights, consumer, community, labor, and good government groups (see list below).

“By passing Automatic Voter Registration, Massachusetts can lead the way towards giving all citizens a voice in their government,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts, who led a training about the legislation. “The system would give the nearly 700,000 eligible Massachusetts citizens that are not registered to vote an opportunity to have their voices heard through our election process. At the same time, Automatic Voter Registration would update and modernize our election system by increasing its accuracy, security, and efficiency.”

Eight states and the District of Columbia have already passed automatic voter registration, all in a bipartisan manner: Oregon, California, West Virginia, Alaska, Vermont, Colorado, Georgia, and Connecticut. In Oregon, the first state to implement Automatic Voter Registration, 230,000 voters registered in its first six months, and more than 500,000 inaccurate registrations were updated. About 100,000 (97,000) voters participated in the 2016 election because of the reform.

Nancy Brumback, Legislative Action Chair of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, led a session on how to lobby the legislature. “The League strongly supports automatic voter registration as the next logical step in the modernization of the electoral process here in Massachusetts,” she said. “AVR will improve the accuracy of voter rolls, create a more efficient and reliable voting system, help control the costs of voter registration over time, and improve the voting process on Election Day.”

Cheryl Clyburn Crawford of MassVOTE, who led one of the event’s breakout groups, said, “Automatic voter registration is a step in the right direction to removing one of the barriers that disproportionately affects our most disenfranchised communities. It is our strong belief that automatic voter registration in Massachusetts will increase voter participation and turnout while continuing to modernize our electoral process.”

“This is a bipartisan, common sense, 21st century bill which will make voter registration more accessible, more secure and less costly in the Commonwealth,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG who also led a breakout group. “We have Republican and Democrat supporters in the Legislature here, the Republican Governor of Illinois indicated that he would sign similar bill into law that passed the legislature unanimously a few weeks ago, and in a time of hyper-partisanship in this country, we’re inspired to call for this bill’s passage.”

Advocacy organizations behind the effort, including Common Cause Massachusetts, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, Progressive Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice have worked together for many years to promote voting access and reform. They see automatic voter registration as a continuation of earlier efforts in the state, like early voting, to improve access to the ballot. Early voting was a resounding success; In its first debut, over one million voters cast their ballots early in October 2016, accounting for over 22% of registered voters and 35% of those that voted.

48 (and counting) endorsing organizations (alphabetical order):
Action Together Western Mass
AFSC – Cambridge
Berkshire Democratic Brigades
Berkshire Women’s Action Group
Black Directors Network
Boston Democratic Ward 4 Committee
Boston Teachers Union
Cambridge Democratic City Committee
Clean Water Action
Coalition for Social Justice
College Democrats of MA
Common Cause Massachusetts
Democracy for America
Democracy Matters
Environmental League of MA Action Fund
Garrison Trotter Neighborhood Association
Green Tea Party
Indivisible (Many chapters)
Jewish Association for Law and Social Action (JALSA)
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice
League of Women Voters of Massachusetts
Lift Every Vote
Mass Affordable Housing Alliance
Mass Law Reform Institute
Massachusetts Jobs with Justice
Massachusetts Peace Action
Massachusetts Senior Action Council
Massachusetts Teachers Association
Massachusetts Voter Table
NAACP Boston
National Association of Social Workers, Massachusetts Chapter
Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts Education Fund
New England United for Justice
Our Revolution Cambridge
PHENOM (Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts)
Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts
Progressive Democrats of America, Boston chapter
Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts
Progressive Massachusetts
SEIU Local 509
SEIU Massachusetts State Council
Sierra Club
Small Planet Institute
Union of Minority Neighborhoods
Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest, and accountable government that works for the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard.