Boston – The Boston Foundation and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley joined with nearly 50 other organizations co-signing a letter calling for Massachusetts lawmakers to Election Day Registration (EDR) in the final version of the VOTES Act.
The endorsement letter cites the positive impact EDR would have on election equity in the City of Boston. “Data show that Boston residents, particularly residents of color, are disproportionately disenfranchised by the current voter registration rules,” said M. Lee Pelton, President and CEO about the letter, which was submitted April 1. “Setting up an effective system for election day registration would remove unnecessary administrative barriers and increase voter engagement in local elections.”
The letter notes that 2020 census data reveals that one-in-five Bostonians change their address every year, part of the reason Boston residents accounted for one-third of all Massachusetts provisional ballots issued in the 2020 Presidential Election. EDR helps remove barriers to legal voting that disproportionately limit the political power of low-income communities and communities of color. Research from UMass Amherst and Demos show that in states with Election Day Registration, voter turnout for Black and Latino voters increases up to 17%.
“We have made so much progress to ease voting access over the last few years,” said Bob Giannino, Ansin President and CEO of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “This is perhaps the most critical step to ensure that our all citizens, particularly our most vulnerable, have the ability to let their voices be heard.”
Election Day Registration would allow for eligible voters to register and vote on the same day, removing a long-standing barrier to voting that is the 20-day voter registration cut-off period.
Recent polling shows that 65% of Massachusetts voters support EDR.
What is the VOTES Act?
Senate and House have both passed a version of the VOTES Act in the current sesion. Both versions include permanent vote-by-mail, extended early voting, and more. The Senate included Same-Day Registration in its version of the bill, but the House did not. The difference between Same-Day Registration and Election Day Registration is that SDR includes the ability to register on early voting days. EDR is only for Election Day.
The bill (S.2554) is being negotiated by a conference committee led by Representative Mike Moran (D-Brighton) and Senator Barry Finegold (D-Andover) that includes Representative Dan Ryan (D- Charlestown), Representative Shaun Dooley (R- Norfolk), Senator Cindy Creem (D- Newton), and Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton).
Click here to see the letter and full list of signers.