Massachusetts, a state with a reputation for liberal politics, has what many consider outdated election laws. That is about to change as state legislators have approved a compromise bill that includes provisions long sought by advocacy groups. The legislation would authorize early voting up to 11 days before Election Day, create a system for online voter registration, allow 16-and 17-year- olds to pre-register to vote, and provide for postelection audits of randomly selected polling places to assure the accuracy of voting machines. Voting rights groups have long pushed for many of the bill’s provisions according to Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “The bill is really a terrific step for voters in Massachusetts. It will make it easier and more efficient to vote and encourage people to participate.”
The Massachusetts House approved the bill 145-5. The Senate vote was unanimous. Governor Deval Patrick is expected to sign it into law before he leaves on an overseas trade mission next week. Most of the changes, including early voting, would begin in the 2016 election.
People in Massachusetts would be permitted to vote up to 11 days before Election Day at city and town halls or other designated places. Wilmot said this should take the strain off polling places during high turnout elections.
“There were huge lines in the last presidential election. Some voters waited up to 3 hours in Boston. That is unacceptable. I think this legislation will significantly help that problem as well as many others.”