Massachusetts

Articles about voting issues in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts: Conscious of cyber threats, Galvin’s office focuses on election integrity | Lowell Sun

Amid talk of ongoing meddling in American elections by Russia or other adversaries, the head of Secretary of State William Galvin’s elections division met over the long weekend with U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials to discuss the security of state elections systems. Last week, the director of national intelligence told federal lawmakers that the intelligence community has already seen signs that Russia, among others, may be attempting to involve itself in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections and other future contests. “We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokespeople and other means of influence to try to exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee last week. He added, “There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.”

Full Article: Conscious of cyber threats, Galvin's office focuses on election integrity - Lowell Sun Online.

Massachusetts: Galvin, voter groups press for same-day registration | Newburyport News

Good-government groups want lawmakers to act fast to allow people to register to vote on Election Day this fall, pointing to a recent court ruling that deemed unconstitutional the state’s 20-day deadline to register before an election. Several bills before the Legislature would allow same-day registration. The effort got a major boost last week when Secretary of State Bill Galvin also filed a bill to allow it. Galvin, the state’s top election official, called on lawmakers to approve the proposal before a deadline Feb. 7 to move bills out of committee. Ironically, Galvin’s office is simultaneously embroiled in a legal battle with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts over the 20-day voter registration cutoff.

Full Article: Galvin, voter groups press for same-day registration | Regional News | newburyportnews.com.

Massachusetts: State Inches Toward Election-Day Voter Registration | Courthouse News

Massachusetts is still fighting a ruling that struck down its voter-registration deadline of 20 days prior to an election, but the state on Thursday proposed same-day voter registration in the commonwealth. Secretary of State William Galvin filed the bill on Jan. 25, six months after Suffolk Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins struck down the 20-day rule as unconstitutional. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts represented the challengers who brought the underlying suit, including voter Rafael Sanchez, and the groups Chelsea Collaborative and MassVote.

Full Article: Massachusetts Inches Toward Election-Day Voter Registration.

Massachusetts: Secretary Of State Galvin Calls For Same-Day Registration | WBUR

Massachusetts voters could both register to vote and cast a ballot on election day, under legislation proposed by the secretary of state. “Allowing voters to register on Election Day is the next step in our successful effort to expand access to the ballot,” Secretary of State William Galvin said in a statement Thursday. Galvin’s bill — which joins similar measures at the Legislature — would allow so-called same-day registration to start in 2019, before the 2020 presidential election. “Over the past few years, my office has worked to bring online voter registration, pre-registration, and early voting to Massachusetts,” Galvin added. “This is yet another way to make it easier to cast a ballot for any eligible citizen who wants to vote.”

Full Article: Secretary Of State Galvin Calls For Same-Day Registration | WBUR News.

Massachusetts: Scheduling state primary turns into major political headache | Associated Press

What should have been a fairly routine administrative exercise — setting a date for this year’s primary election in Massachusetts — is turning into a major political headache for state Secretary William Galvin. The primary is normally held seven weeks before the November general election, which would be Sept. 18. But this year, that day also marks the start of Yom Kippur. Setting the primary for that date would clash with a state law requiring the primary to be moved when it conflicts with a religious holiday. Backing up a week to Sept. 11 doesn’t help, either, because that would fall on Rosh Hashanah. That presented Galvin, who oversees state elections, with a potentially dicey decision. The longtime Democratic officeholder decided to crowdsource the decision by making a public appeal for suggestions from voters, candidates or anyone else with an interest.

Full Article: Scheduling state primary turns into major political headache | Boston.com.

Massachusetts: Early Voting Expansion Proposed To Include Massachusetts Primary | WAMC

The top election official in Massachusetts has scheduled the state’s 2018 primary for September 4th — the day after Labor Day.  Secretary of State William Galvin is also proposing legislation to allow five days of early voting for the primaries. The date of the primary had to be moved up to avoid conflicts with Jewish holidays that fall this year on the second and third Tuesdays in September.  A primary later in the month might not allow for any potential recounts to be completed in time to meet a federally-established deadline to mail general election ballots to military personnel stationed overseas, according to Galvin’s office.

Full Article: Early Voting Expansion Proposed To Include Massachusetts Primary | WAMC.

Massachusetts: State owes municipalities more than $1M for early voting, auditor says | WWLP

Cities and towns spent more than $1 million to cover the costs of holding mandatory early voting periods in 2016, Auditor Suzanne Bump has found, costs that the Legislature may be on the hook for reimbursing. Bump determined in February that parts of the state’s early voting law imposed an unfunded mandate on municipalities. In a letter she sent Monday to the governor, legislative leaders and state budget writers, Bump pegged the total unfunded mandated early voting cost to municipalities at $1,063,978.14 and asked that the Legislature make municipalities whole in a supplemental budget. “Early voting is an important addition to our democratic processes and funding the expenses incurred by our municipalities will make it that much stronger,” Bump wrote in the letter.

Full Article: State owes municipalities more than $1M for early voting, auditor says | WWLP.com.

Massachusetts: Secretary of State Galvin facing conflicts for picking state primary date | State House News Service

It is up to Secretary of State William Galvin to pick a date to hold Massachusetts’ 2018 state primary election and his request for public input hasn’t pointed to an obvious answer. The date of the state primary is usually settled without much discussion or public attention, but this year Galvin is required by law to move the primary to an earlier date in September due to a conflict with a Jewish religious holiday. The target date for the primary – 49 days before Election Day – is Tuesday, Sept. 18, but that date marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. One week earlier, Tuesday, Sept. 11, conflicts with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. State law requires Galvin to schedule the primary within seven days of the second Tuesday of September, this year Sept. 11, leaving the secretary a window from Sept. 4 until Sept. 18 to hold the election.

Full Article: Sec. of State Galvin facing conflicts for picking state primary date.

Massachusetts: In wake of dismal voter turnout, legislators consider automatic registration | The Daily Free Press

In the days following the Massachusetts municipal elections, near record-breaking lows in voter turnout statistics have revamped the push for automatic voter registration in the Commonwealth, as outlined in two bills currently on the Senate and House floors. The percentage of registered voters who cast their votes in the Boston municipal elections experienced a decline, with nearly 42 percent casting their votes in 2014 to only 28 percent in 2017, The Daily Free Press reported. Catherine Anderson, legislative director for the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Cynthia Creem, said these figures alerted state and local officials of the need for new solutions to improve voter turnout and brought attention to the prospect of an automatic voter registration system.

Full Article: In wake of dismal voter turnout, legislators consider automatic registration.

Massachusetts: Advocates push automatic voter registration in Massachusetts | Associated Press

The lackluster turnout in some municipal elections this week has energized advocates hoping to make it easier for people to register to vote. The activists want state lawmakers to adopt something known as automatic voter registration — a system that automatically updates voters’ information whenever they alert one of several state agencies of a change of address or other pertinent change in their status. The agencies include the Registry of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Department of Revenue, MassHealth, the Department of Higher Education, and all public institutions of higher education. The bill would also let voters waive those updates if they want. Among the groups backing the change is the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.

Full Article: Advocates push automatic voter registration in Massachusetts | The Herald.

Massachusetts: Trial Likely in Lawsuit Over Massachusetts City’s Election System | VoA News

When residents of Lowell, Massachusetts, vote Tuesday, they’ll be exercising their civic responsibility against the backdrop of a lawsuit that will pit the city against its minority citizens. In a city notable for its diversity — taken together, ethnic minorities almost form a majority — Tuesday’s contests for City Council and school committee are playing out against a voting rights lawsuit 13 Asian-American and Hispanic residents filed against the city in May, an action that echoes others elsewhere in the United States. On Oct. 17, at the first public hearing on Huot v. City of Lowell in U.S. District Court, Judge William Young denied the city’s motion to dismiss. The suit alleges the city’s at-large electoral “winner-take-all” system dilutes the minority vote and discriminates against candidates from minority communities.

Full Article: Trial Likely in Lawsuit Over Massachusetts City's Election System.

Massachusetts: Judge rejects city attempt to dismiss Lowell voting rights suit | Lowell Sun

A federal judge on Tuesday shut down the city’s attempt to dismiss a voting rights lawsuit, which alleges that Lowell’s at-large election system has shut minority candidates out of local offices for decades and continues to do so. But even as U.S. District Court Judge William Young dismissed the city’s arguments that the case did not have enough merits to proceed toward trial, he expressed a concern with the plaintiffs’ case. Lawyers representing the 13 Asian American and Hispanic residents who brought the suit had argued that if some city councilors and School Committee members were elected by district, at least one district would be majority-minority and therefore increase the chances of a minority candidate gaining office.

Full Article: Judge rejects city attempt to dismiss Lowell voting rights suit - Lowell Sun Online.

Massachusetts: Lowell elections bias suit heading to court | Lowell Sun

A federal judge will hear arguments Tuesday on the city’s request that he dismiss a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming that Lowell’s election system discriminates against minorities. The 13 plaintiffs in the case argue that system, whereby all nine city councilors and six School Committee members are elected at-large, ensures that Lowell’s majority-white population can effectively block minority candidates from gaining office. Only four non-white residents have been elected to the City Council, and none have been elected to the School Committee. Virtually all other cities in Massachusetts have switched to some form of district-based representation. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in May. In September, the city moved to have the case dismissed.

Full Article: Lowell elections bias suit heading to court - Lowell Sun Online.

Massachusetts: Minority Residents, Massachusetts City Head to Federal Court | VoA News

In May, 13 Asian and Hispanic residents of Lowell, Massachusetts, filed a voting rights lawsuit against the city government, alleging the at-large electoral system, in which the winner takes all, dilutes the minority vote and discriminates against the candidates from community of color running for office. The plaintiffs asked the federal court to rule that the city’s electoral system “violates Section 2 the Voting Rights Act” and for “the adoption of at least one district-based seat.” Since 1999, only four Asian and Hispanic candidates have been elected to the Lowell City Council, which is currently all white. The first hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for Tuesday before the U.S. District Court in Boston. Lowell’s City Council filed a motion to dismiss in its first response to the residents’ lawsuit on Sept. 15.

Full Article: Minority Residents, Massachusetts City Head to Federal Court.

Massachusetts: Presidential tax return ballot question clears key hurdle | Associated Press

A proposed Massachusetts ballot question that would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns from the prior six years to secure a spot on the state primary ballot cleared a key hurdle Wednesday. Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey certified the question, saying it passes constitutional muster. That clears the question to go before voters next year, provided that supporters can collect the tens of thousands of signatures needed to get on the ballot. The proposal is a reaction to Republican President Donald Trump’s refusal to publicly release his tax returns during the 2016 election. It would impose the same requirements for candidates for vice president. 

Full Article: Presidential tax return ballot question clears key hurdle | Myrtle Beach Sun News.

Massachusetts: Automatic voter registration now in place in 10 states | Lowell Sun

Illinois this week became the tenth state to adopt an automatic voter registration law, and election reform advocates in Massachusetts are using the news to call on Bay State lawmakers to approve similar legislation. The law signed by Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner after unanimous passage in the Legislature there “creates more accessible and secure elections by automatically registering voters unless they opt out of the program,” members of the Election Modernization Coalition said in a statement. “The new law will add roughly one million new eligible voters to the voter rolls,” said the statement, signed by Pam Wilmot of Common Cause Massachusetts, Meryl Kessler of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, Beth Huang of Mass Voter Table, Janet Domenitz of MASSPIRG, Cheryl Clyburn Crawford of MassVote and Jonathan Cohn of Progressive Massachusetts. “Similar laws in other states have been proven to increase turnout and make elections more secure by modernizing the voter registration process. It is a common sense and long overdue reform.”

Full Article: Automatic voter registration now in place in 10 states - Lowell Sun Online.

Massachusetts: States with Election Day registration see bonus for democracy | The Boston Globe

Voting on Election Day usually entails some pre-planning, with registration required several days, if not weeks, ahead of time in most places. But now, following a court decision last week, Massachusetts is under pressure to join more than a dozen other states — including Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont — in allowing residents to register or reregister on Election day, and vote moments later. While the state’s top election official is raising concerns about costs, research shows that allowing same-day, or election-day, registration can bolster democracy by motivating voters to go to the polls. “While most other election reforms show pretty mixed effects, Election Day registration . . . has produced a wide consensus that in pretty much every study you find positive and increased voter turnout,” said Professor Barry C. Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Full Article: States with Election Day registration see bonus for democracy - The Boston Globe.

Massachusetts: Court ruling renews push to streamline voter ballot access | Associated Press

Efforts to streamline access to the ballot in Massachusetts are picking up steam after a court tossed out a state’s 20-day voter registration cutoff deadline. Voting right advocates say they’re renewing their push for two measures, including one that would let eligible voters register on Election Day and a second that would create a new automatic voter registration system. The rekindled interest comes after Suffolk Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins ruled Monday that the requirement that voters register at least 20 days before an election violates the Massachusetts Constitution and potentially disenfranchises thousands of would-be voters.

Full Article: Court ruling renews push to streamline voter ballot access - Fairfield Citizen.

Massachusetts: Galvin plans appeal of ruling on voter registration deadline | MetroWest Daily News

Secretary of State William Galvin plans to appeal a judge’s ruling that abolishes a voter registration deadline of 20 days before an election. Galvin said removing the 20-day cutoff could lead to more work for town clerks. He contends there is little demand for a change. “The 20-day period is something the clerks need to make sure the voting is accurate,” he said. “They made no showing that there were these thousands of people. … The idea that there’s this large group of people out there that’s suffering because of the 20-day period simply isn’t true.” On Monday, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins ruled that the cutoff was unconstitutional because it prevented thousands of voters from making it to the polls on election day. Wilkins used last year’s successful early voting as his main argument against the cutoff.

Full Article: Galvin plans appeal of ruling on voter registration deadline.

Massachusetts: Judge overturns state’s voter registration deadline | The Boston Globe

A Suffolk Superior Court judge on Monday ruled unconstitutional a state law that forbids people from voting in an election unless they have registered 20 days beforehand. The law denies qualified citizens their right to vote, Judge Douglas Wilkins ruled. In a lawsuit filed last year, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the Chelsea Collaborative, a social services nonprofit, and MassVOTE, a nonprofit that registers people to vote, argued that the law is “unnecessary and arbitrary” and that it excluded thousands of citizens from voting. Wilkins agreed, rejecting the state’s claim that removing the deadline would impose overly burdensome duties on local election officials. 

Full Article: Judge overturns state’s voter registration deadline - The Boston Globe.