Massachusetts Passes Major Voting Rights Expansion

CREDIT: Shutterstock
CREDIT: Shutterstock

When it comes to voting, Massachusetts hasn’t passed many of the progressive reforms to ease ballot access that have been implemented in many other blue states. But on Thursday, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) signed into law one of the most effective voting changes for both cutting down on election-day chaos, and giving access to particularly disenfranchised groups.

Massachusetts’ new early voting law allows voters to go to the polls up to 11 days before Election Day. It also includes other changes meant to encourage voting, including allowing teens to pre-register at age 16 or 17, and creating an online portal for checking voter registration status. The early voting period is particularly vital for the elderly, low-income voters, and others who have limited means for getting to the polls. African American voters are also significantly more likely to vote early, particularly on Sundays when churches lead voter drives.

The final version of the bill did omit one crucial provision tied to increased turnout. The legislature removed a provision in earlier versions that allowed same-day registration before sending it to Gov. Patrick.

Massachusetts becomes the 33rd state to implement early voting, joining many deep red states like Utah and Louisiana that already allow voting before election day.