Today the Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition hosted lawmakers and legislative staff for a briefing on proposed voting reforms and existing barriers to voting. The briefing pointed to solutions offered in the Voting ACCESS Act, a comprehensive election administration bill introduced by state Sen. Cindy Creem and similar bills filed in the House that would improve access to the ballot box. The briefing also featured remarks from Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows who spoke favorably about the administration and cost of Same Day Registration in Maine.
“The ACCESS Act is an opportunity for Massachusetts to build on the success of 2022’s VOTES Act,” said Geoff Foster, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “After conversations with lawmakers today, we are heartened and hopeful that the legislature will eliminate remaining barriers, protect the right to vote, and further modernize our elections by passing this bill.”
“After every single election we have to ask how we can improve ballot access next time,” said Gavi Wolfe, legislative director at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Maybe we need to focus on removing barriers to voter registration, improving polling place access, or providing resources for election workers to keep things running smoothly. But in a Commonwealth that cares about full democratic participation, the answer is never ‘yeah, we’re all set.’”
“Lawyers for Civil Rights demands the expansion of equitable access to the ballot box. The ACCESS Act, true to its name, advances that goal,” said Sophia Hall, deputy litigation director at Lawyers for Civil Rights. “Through common sense policies like same-day voter registration, it eliminates many of the primary obstacles to voting for traditionally disenfranchised groups. We support this critical legislation and urge lawmakers to enact it.”
“Reforms like same day voter registration are essential to increasing voter turnout, especially in traditionally-underserved communities like Black and brown, low income, and immigrant populations,” said Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, executive director of MassVOTE. “Massachusetts must waste no time in passing same day registration — and all of the ACCESS Act — to make our elections truly accessible, inclusive, and efficient.”
“Every year, we talk to Massachusetts voters who are excited to exercise their right to vote, but are turned away from the polls because they moved since the last election. We know that our BIPOC and low income communities are often more transient than others,” said Shanique Spalding, executive director of the MA Voter Table. “By passing Same Day Registration in the ACCESS Act, our legislature will lead the way to expand voting rights for all MA voters, especially those most disenfranchised in the political process.”
“Voting should be an inclusive process. Everything should be done to ensure the people’s will is truly heard at the polls and this can be accomplished by reducing barriers that prevent this. I have witnessed first hand how same day registration could have helped us achieve this collective goal on Election Day here in Massachusetts,” said Tri Tran, director of public policy at Rosie’s Place. “If 22 other states and the District of Columbia can accomplish this, there’s no reason why we can’t accomplish this too.”
“The League of Women Voters looks forward to continuing the progress made in the last legislative session by further expanding access to voting with same-day voter registration. We also salute the provisions to make the job of our election officials easier by decoupling the voting rolls from the municipal census and by simplifying the required forms,” said Pattye Comfort, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.
“Massachusetts should lead the country when it comes to access to voting,” said Janet Domenitz, Director of MASSPIRG. “We have the tools and technology to modernize our voting and we’re not using all of them. Let’s build our democracy back better and catch up with other states where barriers to voting have been removed.”
“The Jewish community and other religious minorities are reliant on a pluralistic and healthy democracy,” said FayeRuth Fisher, senior director of public affairs at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. “We applaud the progress made last legislative session to expand democracy through election reform and remain committed to working with community allies and elected leaders to make voting more accessible and to increase funding for local election administrators who carry out the important work of overseeing elections across the Commonwealth.”
“While the VOTES Act ensures that key accommodations are available for voters with disabilities who wish to vote by mail, many Massachusetts voters with disabilities continue to face difficulties when going to vote in person,” said Barbara L’Italien, executive director of the Disability Law Center. “ACCESS Act provisions requiring greater oversight of polling site compliance with established accessibility standards through inspections and reporting by the Secretary of the Commonwealth is an essential step in dismantling persistent barriers. The Disability Law Center supports these and other essential reforms included in the ACCESS Act.”
The ACCESS Act includes:
- Same Day Voter Registration (also filed by Rep Carmine Gentile)
- Decoupling Municipal Census from Voter Registration (also filed by Rep Frank Moran)
- Strengthening Disability Voting Access Oversight (also filed by Rep Kay Khan)
- Uniform Mail Voting Forms (also filed by Rep Shirley Arriaga)
More information on the ACCESS Act is available here.