STATEMENT: House Elections Legislation Protects Voters, Says Voting Rights Group

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For Immediate Release: June 4, 2020

Statement of Pamela H Wilmot, Executive Director

Today the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed by a nearly unanimous vote a very strong reform to our election laws. The legislation will allow every voter who wants to vote from the safety of their own home to do so. The House has recognized the urgency of passing legislation to help protect our fall elections and moved quickly to help keep voters safe.

The legislation takes critical steps to promote ballot access and safety in the fall’s elections, by sending mail ballot applications for both the September 1 and November 3 elections to all registered voters, creating an online portal for mail ballot applications, expanding early voting, and providing safer in-person voting on election day.

We commend the House for passing such a strong bill. Most of the credit goes to House Election Laws Committee Chairman John Lawn who worked with all stakeholders to craft an excellent piece of legislation. He and House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz, Assistant Majority Leader Michael Moran, and Speaker DeLeo then worked with members, election officials, and advocates to further improve the bill by, among other things:

  • Allowing local election officials to process mail ballots before election day in a central location
  • Counting ballots postmarked by election day but received by the Friday after (for the general election only)
  • Providing return postage for ballots and applications for ballots
  • Provide more time for voter registration before the election (shortening the blackout period from 20 to 10 days)

The House legislation embodies the goals of voting rights advocates: to allow every voter to vote safely, to expand voter participation, and to help ensure that every voter’s ballot is counted. We look forward to working with the Senate to ensure swift passage and to correct a few outstanding issues, including those about counting ballots received after election day.