By Bob Katzen
The House 126-29, Senate 37-3, approved and Gov. Baker signed into law a bill making permanent the mail-in and early voting options used in Massachusetts in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The measure requires the secretary of state to send out mail-in ballot applications, with return postage guaranteed, to registered voters before each presidential primary, state primary and biennial state election. It also allows registered voters to request a mail-in ballot for all elections in a single calendar year.
Other provisions include reducing the registration blackout period from 20 days prior to an election to 10 days; electronic voting options for voters with disabilities and military service members; allowing a voter with disabilities to request accommodations including an accessible electronic ballot application, ballot and voter affidavit that can be submitted electronically; ensuring that non-felons who are incarcerated and are currently eligible to vote are provided with voting information and materials to exercise their right to vote; and requiring the secretary of state to conduct a comprehensive public awareness campaign to publicize the new voting and registration options.
“I’m proud to see the [bill] pass in the House and make its way to the governor’s desk,” said Sen. Barry Finegold (D-Andover), Senate Chair of the Committee on Election Laws and the co-sponsor of the bill. “When more people participate in voting, democracy wins.”
“As a general rule, we should be promoting voting in person and on Election Day,” said Paul Craney, spokesperson for the Mass Fiscal Alliance. “Anytime a voter loses control of their ballot before it’s given to an election official, it’s possible it could be lost or altered. The Postal Service cannot guarantee a 100 percent delivery rate.”
(A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it.)
Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes