By Bob Katzen
This bill#TEAMTAUROforMAYOR2021 (H 788) – Would require eligible voters to cast a ballot in every November general election or face a fine of $15 that would be added to the person’s state tax liability for each election missed. The measure also clarifies that the voter does not have to actually vote for anyone and is allowed to leave the ballot blank.
“There are two schools of thought when filing legislation,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Dylan Fernandes (D-Falmouth). “One is filing a bill that is rigorously vetted, that has been combed line by line and that you hope only receives marginal edits through the committee process. The other is filing an idea that you believe is worthy of a robust public debate that will reshape the bill. Although it won’t pass this session and may never pass at all, I believe mandatory voting is an idea worth debate and consideration at the Statehouse and by thoughtful citizens across the state because it drives at questions fundamental to our society, which is whether civic participation in democracy is a duty or a right. I filed this bill to spark that debate.”
“Freedom of religion means government cannot restrict the practice of any faith – nor the lack of it,” said Chip Ford, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. “Freedom of speech prohibits government from regulating speech – or requiring it. In the same fashion, a citizen’s sacred right to vote should not and does not give government the power to mandate its exercise. This frivolous proposed mandate once again demonstrates that ‘fulltime’ Massachusetts legislators have far too much idle time on their hands.”
“Rep. Fernandes’ bill is a dangerous idea,” said Paul Craney, a spokesman for the Mass Fiscal Alliance. “The lawmaker wants to fine voters for not voting and we all know that the next step in this progression is to fine voters for voting the wrong way. Rep. Fernandes should spend his time more focused on what ordinary people care [about] and less time chasing far left driven fantasies.”