In hopes of spurring an increase in voter turnout, an election reform bill is moving through the State House that would ensure early voting, online voter registration and pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds in Massachusetts. Under the new law, there would be an early voting period beginning 10 days before Election Day and ending two days before Election Day. Additionally, both online registration and pre-registration for teenagers coming up on their 18th birthday will make voting more convenient for residents of Massachusetts. Altogether, 32 other states so far have passed similar bills.
“I’m very excited,” said Massachusetts Sen. Karen Spilka, one of the many officials in support of the new bill. “I support the legislature being more proactive and taking steps to get more people to be involved and to vote. [Voting] is a primary duty and honor of residents of both Massachusetts and the United States. The more we can do for increasing civic engagement and democracy and voter turnout is really important.”
Spilka said each aspect of the bill is critical and each part will have an influence on bringing more people to vote. “Allowing people to vote [early] will really increase voter turnout because it is difficult for people to sometimes vote on just one particular day,” she said. “Particularly since we had such strict rules concerning absentee ballots … and those that are going to the polls will be happier on Election Day, the lines will be shorter … If 16 and 17-year-olds are able to preregister, the likelihood that they will vote when they turn 18 increases.”