Category: Elections and Voting

190th Session Recap: Elections Laws and Reform

190th Session Recap: Election Laws

H.4834 – An Act automatically registering eligible voters and enhancing safeguards against fraud

Overview:

  • This was an important priority for Jay, who co-sponsored this bill and advocated for it.
  • Directs the Secretary of State to work with the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) and MassHealth to automatically enroll eligible individuals to the Commonwealth’s voter rolls.
  • Secretary of State will adopt regulations governing the AVR system, including provisions requiring electronic transmission, data security protocols, and integration with online portals.

Outcome: This bill was passed in both chambers and signed by the Governor on August 9, 2018

To read the full text of the bill, click here.

Massachusetts House passes automatic voter registration

BOSTON — The Massachusetts House on Wednesday passed a bill that would establish automatic voter registration in Massachusetts.

That means anyone who updates their driver’s license at an RMV or applies for MassHealth, and is an adult U.S. citizen, would automatically have their name registered in the state’s voter database unless they choose to opt out.

“This is just another way to make it simpler … for people to vote,” said Rep. John Mahoney, D-Worcester, chairman of the Joint Committee on Election Laws. Mahoney said automatic voter registration could eliminate confusion at the polls and drive up youth participation in elections.

He estimated that voter turnout would increase by about 5 percent.

“We should be encouraging everyone to register to vote, to participate in our electoral process,” said Rep. Jay Livingstone, D-Boston, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Automatic voter registration just makes it easier for them to register to vote, and hopefully that will increase citizen participation in our elections.”

The bill, H.4667, passed the House 130-20. It now goes to the Senate for consideration, then to Gov. Charlie Baker.

Lawmakers have until the legislative session ends on July 31 to get the bill to Baker’s desk. Baker has not yet taken a position on the bill.

The bill would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020, in time for that year’s presidential election.

Advocates of automatic voter registration have pushed for the bill as a way to boost voter turnout by making it easier for people to register to vote.

Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, said there are about 700,000 U.S. citizens living in Massachusetts who are eligible to vote but are not registered.

Wilmot said voters who move frequently, young people and rural voters are the ones most likely to benefit, based on the experiences of other states.

Oregon blazes a path for Massachusetts on automatic voter registration

The former Oregon secretary of state says Oregon’s ‘motor voter’ law was a success.

Wilmot said automatic voter registration results in more accurate voter lists, since the system is better able to track when someone moves.

The bill would also require Massachusetts to join a national system in which states voluntarily compare databases to catch when someone moves from state to state.

“The new system mostly means more accuracy in our voting lists and a larger number of registered voters,” Wilmot said. “We believe that will also increase voter participation in elections.”

Mahoney said the bill would cost about $500,000 to implement the first year, for software and mailing costs, and $50,000 annually after that.

Galvin’s Democratic primary challenger, Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim, held a press conference outside the Statehouse on Wednesday in support of the bill.

Zakim noted that Massachusetts would be the 14th state to pass some form of automatic voter registration.

“It dramatically increases turnout and dramatically addresses issues of equity and access across demographics,” Zakim said. “It’s high time Massachusetts has it.”

“People often forget that the right to vote is a right, it’s not a privilege,” Zakim said. “We need to be doing everything we can to lower unnecessary barriers, make it more seamless.”

There are protections in the bill to allow domestic violence and sexual assault victims to keep their addresses confidential.

https://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/06/massachusetts_house_passes_aut.html

Smooth sailing seen for auto-voter bill

BOSTON – A co-sponsor of automatic voter registration legislation advancing in the House Wednesday said he expects to see the measure become law in a matter of weeks.

“I’d be surprised if it isn’t signed into law in the next month,” state Rep. Jay Livingstone said.

Livingstone joined Boston City Councilors Josh Zakim and Matt O’Malley at a State House press conference to tout the bill, which would automatically register eligible voters when they interact with a state agency such as the Registry of Motor Vehicles or MassHealth. People could opt out of registering to vote if they wish.

Zakim, a Democrat running for secretary of state, said the bill would boost registration across demographic groups and could be particularly beneficial for communities of color and populations that are younger, low income or move frequently.

As the press conference was being held, the House voted to advance the bill, with plans to consider possible amendments and send it to the Senate later Wednesday.

“Looking forward to voting for #AVRinMA in the @MA_Senate after it passes in the Massachusetts House!!” Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem tweeted Tuesday.

The bill has an effective date of Jan. 1, 2020.

http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/20180627/smooth-sailing-seen-for-auto-voter-bill

http://www.patriotledger.com/news/20180628/smooth-sailing-seen-for-auto-voter-bill

Secretary of the Commonwealth candidate Josh Zakim proposes weekend voting, same-day registration

BOSTON — Josh Zakim, a Democrat challenging Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, on Tuesday proposed a series of reforms aimed at boosting voter turnout – including requiring weekend elections.

“As your secretary of state, I guarantee you turnout will increase,” Zakim said at a press conference outside the Statehouse.

Galvin, a Democrat, was first elected Secretary of the Commonwealth in 1994 and has won six successive four-year terms.

Galvin shot back that he has a record of accomplishing the things that Zakim, a Boston city councilor, is advocating. “It’s great to stand outside on the steps,” Galvin said. “Why don’t you come in and talk to the Legislature? He’s never been at a hearing for same-day (voter registration). I have a same-day proposal. … He’s never run an election or administered an election.”

Rep. Jay Livingstone, D-Boston, filed a bill Tuesday to require state primaries and presidential primaries to be held over two days, with voting on both Saturday and Sunday. The two days would be established because both days come with religious conflicts. His bill would also establish mandatory early voting for primaries so people could vote on weekdays.

Livingstone, who endorsed Zakim’s campaign, said he developed the idea together with Zakim, and after working in the Northern Mariana Islands, where election day was on Saturday. Livingstone said the goal is “to allow for more flexible schedules.”

“In Massachusetts, you would get a higher percentage of people voting if you had weekend voting, but then also early voting to go with that,” Livingstone said.

Zakim said he supports weekend elections. “In the last nearly quarter century since Secretary Galvin’s been in office, a lot has changed in our lives,” Zakim said. “People are busier, they have busier lives, they’re working longer hours, commuting further, and it’s not always easy for people to get to the polls on Tuesday. There’s no reason to have this arbitrary date be the only time you can vote.”

Galvin said Massachusetts already has weekend voting through the state’s early voting law, which was implemented for the first time in 2016. Galvin’s office provided grants to cities and towns to open the polls on weekends. But he said weekend voting may not work for every town because of the need to use public buildings, which are generally closed on weekends.

Zakim also supports same-day voter registration. A lawsuit pending before the Supreme Judicial Court challenges the state’s voter registration cutoff. Zakim criticized Galvin for appealing that lawsuit.

SJC to consider voter registration, campaign finance cases

The Supreme Judicial Court will consider a challenge to a Massachusetts law that requires voters to register at least 20 days before an election. It will consider a separate case challenging a law that prohibits businesses from making political contributions.

Zakim said he would withdraw the appeal and work with the Legislature on instituting same-day voter registration. “We should not be fighting these old-time delay tactics to continue to keep these barriers in place,” Zakim said.

Galvin in January offered a proposal for same-day voter registration, which would include electronically connecting each polling place so poll workers can check whether someone is registered or already voted elsewhere.

Voters could register, vote on same day under new bill from elections chief

Massachusetts could register and vote within the same day, under a bill the state’s elections chief is proposing.

Galvin said he has always supported same-day voter registration, as long as money is set aside to pay for it.

Zakim said he believes the state can ensure voting security the same way other states do, by requiring same-day registrants to show photo identification and proof of residency. Zakim estimated that allowing same-day voting registration would cost the state $1.5 million.

Massachusetts held early voting for the first time in 2016, and Zakim wants to expand that. He also wants to allow any voter to cast an absentee ballot. Current law requires someone requesting an absentee ballot to state that they will be out of town on Election Day or they have a disability or religious reason why they cannot vote on Election Day.

1 million Mass. voters cast ballots during early voting

Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said at least 1,030,000 Massachusetts residents voted early, representing around one-third of the projected total voter turnout for Tuesday’s election.

“Who are we to say to someone you have to have a legitimate excuse not to be here?” Zakim said. “If you have a right to vote, we should be doing everything we can to make it easier, not putting up these barriers.”

Galvin said no-excuse absentee voting already exists, since the state’s new early voting law lets people vote early by mail.

Zakim called the proposals “commonsense voting reforms” that have all been implemented in other states.

Although some proposals have been introduced before in the Legislature, Zakim said he thinks having a more activist secretary of state pushing for the reforms could make a difference. “When we have a secretary who is reluctant at best to support many of these issues, that’s an important signal to many of other elected officials,” Zakim said.

Galvin responded that unlike Zakim, he knows how to work with lawmakers. “If you’re serious about these things, you go to hearings, participate in the process,” Galvin said. “I am serious. I have actually achieved such things as early voting, online voter registration because I know how to work the Legislature and make my case, which is why I’m here.”

Zakim also criticized Galvin for setting the date of the 2018 state primary for the Tuesday after Labor Day. Galvin said he chose that date with public input to avoid conflicting with Jewish holidays. Zakim says that will depress turnout.

Massachusetts state primary set for Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018

The primary will be held the day after Labor Day.

Massachusetts lawmakers are currently considering implementing automatic voter registration, in which people are automatically enrolled to vote when they complete a transaction at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Oregon blazes a path for Massachusetts on automatic voter registration

The former Oregon secretary of state says Oregon’s ‘motor voter’ law was a success.

Galvin is expected to come out in favor of that effort at a press conference scheduled for later this week.

Zakim supports the proposal.

http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/03/secretary_of_the_commonwealth_3.html

Rep. Livingstone’s Bill Co-Sponsorship for 2017-18 session

Legislative Agenda

Co-Sponsored Legislation
2017-2018 Legislative Session

Below are all of the bills that I have decided to co-sponsor this session organized by their subject area. As you can imagine, leafing through thousands of bills can be very cumbersome, so I would like to thank all of my constituents that wrote in with their requests. If you didn’t have a chance to write in, no worries! Contact information is below to remain updated on whichever bill(s) that you would like.

[gview file=”http://www.livingstonedispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Bill-Filing-190th-Session-Co-Sponsored-1.pdf”]

To learn more about the legislation that I have filed and co-sponsored, you can check out my public legislative page here, or reach out to my Legislative Aide, Caitlin Duffy, by email (Caitlin.Duffy@mahouse.gov) or by telephone (617-722-2396)