Putting the “New” in New England: Massachusetts Poised to Adopt OVR, Early Voting


[Image courtesy of umassmed]

Back in the early (early!) days of electionline.org I had a colleague from Massachusetts who liked to refer to his home state as “the place where election reform goes to die.” It was an accurate assessment, given how many different innovations in the field never quite made it to the Bay State, where elections are now run they way they’ve been run for many, many years. That’s about to change as Massachusetts is about ready to join many other states in adopting online voter registration and early voting. WAMC has more:

Massachusetts, a state with a reputation for liberal politics, has what many consider outdated election laws.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 post-election audits of randomly selected polling places to assure the accuracy of voting machines …

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.

While many states have been looking recently at OVR and early voting, it’s hard to overstate the significance of Massachusetts’ action to enact the legislation. It will be interesting, however, to see how well (and how quickly) these reforms get implemented, given the state’s overall resistance to change. Still, just the fact that reform is on the table at all is a tremendous development – or as they might say in Boston, “wicked good.”

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