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New state law will make voting safer during COVID-19
MASSPIRG, Election Modernization Coalition, 80 state organizations celebrate passage
BOSTON -- Critical legislation that will help keep elections safe, accessible and secure this fall in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been signed by Gov. Charlie Baker. H.4820, An Act Relative to Voting Options in Response to COVID-19, will create significant protections for voters -- ensuring that no one has to choose between their health and their right to vote -- and makes long overdue changes to voting access in the Bay State.
MASSPIRG -- a member of the Election Modernization Coalition -- along with 80 organizations across the state, advocated for the last several months in support of this bill. Specifically, the legislation will expand early voting options; automatically send all registered voters a mail ballot application for both the September 1 state primary and the November general election; offer protections for in-person voting; and task the secretary of the commonwealth with establishing an online portal so voters can request a mail ballot online. Creating this portal quickly will be critical, given the challenge that processing a surge in mail ballot applications will pose to town clerks and elections officials. It also could significantly reduce clerks' work processing paper applications.
MASSPIRG Executive Director Janet Domenitz issued the following statement celebrating the bill’s passage:
“This bill will help ensure safe and accessible elections this fall during the COVID-19 pandemic. The coalition is gratified that this bill has become law.. “Moving forward, we are committed to doing public education about these important changes, and working together in 2021 for additional and more permanent reforms.”
The Election Modernization Coalition includes Common Cause of Massachusetts, MassVOTE, the ACLU of Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, Mass Voter Table, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.
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