“It would make voting by mail and expanded early in-person voting permanent in Massachusetts.”
As the state’s June 7 filing deadline for primary candidates running in federal races approaches, a growing number of Massachusetts organizations support a permanent extension of early and mail-in voting.
The COVID pandemic changed how many people voted in the U.S. In 2020, the Commonwealth introduced vote-by-mail and expanded early voting for the September 1 State Primary and November 3 General Election.
Both elections saw the highest voter turnout in decades, with the majority casting ballots early, in person or by mail. But those changes were short-lived and quickly expired.
MassVOTE’s Communications Consultant Alex Psilakis said his nonpartisan group wants to make them permanent with the VOTES Act.
“It would make voting by mail and expanded early in-person voting permanent in Massachusetts,” said Psilakis. “We’ve been also pushing for Election Day registration. We’re expecting a decision on that on Beacon Hill very shortly.”
And while Massachusetts law allows people incarcerated for pretrial detention or non-felony convictions to cast ballots, MassVOTE believes this group is rarely given the opportunity to vote.
The VOTES Act would also take steps to ensure this right, through increased voter education efforts and providing absentee ballot resources in prisons.
Psilakis said canvassers are also knocking on doors in support of what’s known as the Fair Share amendment.
“The goals of the Fair Share amendment are increasing funding around issues like education and transportation,” said Psilakis. “And in our traditionally underrepresented communities, education and transportation lack the necessary funding to function at a really effective level.”
The think-tank MassBudget reports the proposed legislation would generate about $2 billion every year through increased taxes on households with annual incomes of $1 million or higher.