A trial in a civil lawsuit that challenges the legality of Massachusetts to set a voter registration deadline prior to elections is scheduled to begin Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court. The suit, filed last November by the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, charges that the state laws requiring new voters to register with the local election office within 20 days of an election or primary is both unconstitutional and arbitrary. It charges that the deadline bars thousands of people from being able to vote each election. The trial is scheduled to open Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. in the Suffolk County Courthouse. For now, the trial is scheduled to last three days although it could be extended.
Since 1993, Massachusetts has required new voters to register with their local city or town clerk, the Registry of Motor Vehicles or online through the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office at least 20 days before the nearest election.
The suit was filed by the ACLU on behalf of Chelsea Collaborative and MassVote, two nonpartisan organizations that focus on issues involving voter registration. It names three plaintiffs, Edma Ortiz of Chelsea, Raphael Sanchez of Somerville and Wilyeliz Leon of Revere.