For as liberal as its politics is, Massachusetts has been surprisingly conservative in its voting rights laws. Unlike blood-red states like Utah and Louisiana, the Commonwealth does not allow early voting. Nor does Massachusetts allow residents to vote absentee without a certain excuse. Voters can’t register online. And for anyone who hasn’t registered to vote within 20 days of the election, they are barred from casting a ballot.
But, as many Republican-led states work to roll back voting rights, the Massachusetts Senate moved in the opposite direction on Thursday, passing an omnibus bill that would significantly expand voting rights in the Commonwealth.
The bill, H. 3788, makes a number of changes. It allows for a week of early voting beginning 10 days prior to an election. It creates an online voter registration system and also permits 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote. But perhaps most importantly, it allows Massachusetts residents to register to vote on Election Day.