With Unanimous Bipartisan Vote, Automatic Voter Registration Bill Passes Massachusetts Senate

With Unanimous Bipartisan Vote, Automatic Voter Registration Bill Passes Massachusetts Senate

Commonwealth Poised to Become 14th State to Adopt AVR

BOSTON, MA – With a unanimous, bipartisan vote of 38-0, the Massachusetts Senate today passed Automatic Voter Registration (H. 4667).

The AVR legislation, originally introduced by Sen. Cynthia Creem and the late Rep. Peter Kocot, would establish a system for eligible citizens to automatically register to vote when they interact with a state agency like the Registry of Motor Vehicles or MassHealth. Approximately 680,000 eligible Massachusetts voters are currently not registered.

“Automatic Voter Registration will make voting more accurate, more secure, and more available to all. That’s good for democracy, for election security, and for voters,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts, which led the broad-based coalition pushing for the bill. “Utilizing existing technology to modernize the voter registration process just is basic common sense, and we are thrilled that all 38 Senators agreed with us.”

The legislation has enjoyed broad support in both legislative chambers. It passed in the House on June 27 by a bipartisan vote of 130-20. Attorney General Maura Healey and Secretary of State Bill Galvin are also supporters. The legislation is endorsed by 65 organizations including environmental, civil rights, consumer, community, labor, and good government groups.

After the House concurs and both the Senate and House enact the bill, it will go to Governor Charlie Baker for signature.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have passed automatic voter registration: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. A report based on data from Oregon, Vermont, and Colorado concluded that the cost of implementing AVR in Massachusetts would be minimal.

“While voter suppression is on the rise nationally, we’re proud Massachusetts is leading the way forward to expand ballot access,” said Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Voter registration should be simple, accessible, and secure, because increased voter participation makes our democracy stronger.”

“We commend the legislature’s passage of Automatic Voter Registration, a reform that will expand the electorate to those too frequently pushed to the margins,” noted Beth Huang, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Voter Table.

“Our democracy is strongest when everyone’s voice can be heard. This bill will help engage the almost 700,000 eligible but unregistered citizens in Massachusetts, strengthening democracy and setting a positive example for other states,” said Jonathan Cohn of Progressive Massachusetts.

Meryl Kessler, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, added:
“The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts applauds today’s vote by the Massachusetts Senate. Bringing AVR to our state will remove real obstacles to political participation, ensuring that more voices can be heard.”

“Today we thank the Massachusetts Senate for approving an Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) bill as a new avenue to increase voter participation and accessibility to Massachusetts’ most vulnerable communities,” said Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, Executive Director of MassVOTE.

“If there was a World Cup for election reform, passing Automatic Voter Registration would definitely be a huge goal. Today, everyone who cares about democracy scored,” said Executive Director of MASSPIRG Janet Domenitz.

The Election Modernization Coalition is led by Common Cause Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters or Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, ACLU of Massachusetts, and Progressive Massachusetts. A full list of member organizations can be found here, and more information about AVR can be found here.