Massachusetts House passes measure making no excuse mail-in voting permanent | Matt Stout/The Boston Globe
The Massachusetts House on Thursday passed a provision that would permanently allow every registered voter to cast a ballot by mail in state primaries, general elections, and some municipal races, extending what had been embraced as a pandemic-era option. Lawmakers tacked the measure onto a supplemental spending bill that easily passed the House on Thursday. The vote on the amendment, filed Wednesday, fell almost exclusively along party lines, with all 30 Republicans in the House opposing it, along with two Democrats. House Speaker Ronald Mariano, who previously said lawmakers would move to codify expanded voting by mail, said before the vote that he “conceptually supports” the proposal, bolstering its passage. The sudden emergence of the amendment puts the House somewhat at odds with the Senate. While Democratic leaders in both chambers support continuing to make voting by mail available to all voters, the Senate on Thursday passed a separate bill that would extend the measure temporarily to mid-December, signaling senators were still mapping out a more permanent option. A record 3.6 million ballots were cast in Massachusetts in November’s general election, with more voters embracing mail-in ballots — nearly 42 percent — than any other option. Before lawmakers passed a law amid the pandemic allowing every registered voter to cast an absentee ballot by mail, state law had limited absentee balloting to those who had specific reasons for not being able to make it to the polls, including if they are disabled or would be out of town on Election Day.