A local legislator is working with other lawmakers and good government groups to have Massachusetts join eight other states in allowing eligible voters to register on election day. Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, Sen. Cynthia Creem, D-Newton, and representatives of MassVote, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters testified in support of election day registration at a hearing of the Joint Committee on Election Laws yesterday.
“It’s estimated that it would increase voter participation by 5 percent,” said Sara Brady, policy director of MassVote. “It means a lot to those people. In 2008 (for the presidential election), more than 10,000 people (in Massachusetts) missed the voter-registration deadline, and those are people who wanted to vote.”
Eldridge’s bill, titled An Act to Modernize our Voter Registration System, includes additional provisions he hopes would increase voter participation by allowing 16- to 17-year-olds to register to vote before their 18th birthday and allowing online registration for people already on file with the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
“Last year there were 2 million people eligible to vote who didn’t vote,” Eldridge said. “I’m sure we all have talked to someone who went to the polls to vote and came back without voting for some technical reason.” Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause, said the legislation would mostly affect people such as new renters in Boston who often miss registration deadlines and go to the polls only to be turned away.