ELECTION LAW CHANGES

(H 4359)
By Bob Katzen

The House 124-34, approved a bill making permanent the mail-in and early voting options used in Massachusetts in 2020.

Other provisions include reducing the registration blackout period from 20 days prior to an election to 10 days; ensuring that non-felons who are incarcerated who are currently eligible to vote are provided with voting information and materials to exercise their right to vote; mandating that felons who are incarcerated but prohibited from voting are notified of their right to vote upon release and given the opportunity fill out a voter registration form; and requiring the secretary of state to conduct a comprehensive public awareness campaign to publicize the new voting and registration options.

The Senate has already approved a different version of the bill which includes same day registration that allows people to register to vote on the same day that they actually vote. The House version does not include that provision.

Rep. Dan Ryan (D-Boston), House chair of the Elections Laws Committee, led the charge on the House floor for the bill but did not respond to several requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on passage of the bill.

“With nationwide assaults on voting rights and upcoming elections in November, our democracy can’t be taken for granted,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “It must be protected and strengthened, not just in Congress but in every state. Passage of [this bill] in the Massachusetts House represents important progress, and we are grateful that state lawmakers adopted reforms—from widespread mail-in voting to improved access for eligible incarcerated voters—that will address barriers to the ballot and expand the hard-won right to vote.”

“Speaker Ron Mariano and his leadership team passed a very partisan Democratic election bill,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “It’s important for Republicans and common-sense Democrats to speak up and hold accountable the majority party when they try to change the rules in favor of their party’s electoral success.”

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