The fate of mail-in voting and 10-day registration is now in the hands of the governor after the Legislature on Thursday sent him a bill that would codify those pandemic-era measures into state law.
“Massachusetts takes a backseat to nobody when it comes to election reforms, allowing people to choose the candidate of their choice, expand and make more efficient voting registration processes, making voting as convenient as possible, and putting in place laws that protect the integrity of our election results,” state Rep. Michael Moran said ahead of the vote.
The bill cleared the House by a vote of 126-29 after leaving the Senate last week by a vote 37-3 and Gov. Charlie Baker’s signature would make it law.
The governor would not say this week whether he would be willing to sign the legislation when considering the recently passed Work and Family Mobility Act, which grants those without legal status but the ability to demonstrate their identity with foreign documents the ability to earn driver’s licenses.
Baker has expressed concern about that legislation, which he vetoed, in part due to the fact drivers in Massachusetts, when receiving a license, are simultaneously registered to vote.
“I will say that many of the bills that have been passed in other states are not laws in which you get a driver’s license. You get a driver’s privilege card. That was never really on the table here in Massachusetts,” Baker said Monday. “We had plenty of ideas about how to make life easier for the Secretary of State and the clerks, all of which were rejected.”
The law which cleared the legislature Thursday will leave in place permanently some COVID-19 era measures put in place during the statewide lockdown.
“Because of health concerns around the spread of COVID-19 virus, the Legislature acted quickly and put in place temporary laws which made voting safer and easier,” Moran explained to his colleagues Thursday.
“Among these improvements were requiring the secretary of state to mail applications to every registered voter, allowing them to, for the first time in this commonwealth’s history, to vote by mail. This one act resulted in 3.6 million people voting in the 2020 election, the highest turnout we’ve seen in a century,” he said.
Another proposed voting measure, same day registration, did not make the bill, while a provision to inform inmates of their eligibility to vote, if any, did.
Herald wire services contributed to this report.