“It’s pretty astonishing the number of people that voted.”
For the first time, registered voters in Massachusetts can ask for mail-in ballots online, and without any physical paperwork.
Secretary of State William Galvin launched the new mail-in ballot online application system on Wednesday.
The creation of the online portal was part of legislation passed this summer to increase voting access in response to COVID-19.
Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, thinks the large numbers of people voting by mail in the state primary this month helped drive record turnout.
“It’s pretty astonishing the number of people that voted,” Wilmot said. “It was literally four-and-a-half times the turnout of 2016.”
More than 1.7 million people voted in the September Massachusetts primary election, breaking a 30-year record for a state primary.
Wilmot expects voter turnout in November may also be much higher than previous presidential elections.
Massachusetts registered voters who want to request a mail-in ballot can visit mailmyballotma.com.
Beth Huang, director of the Massachusetts Voter Table, said the online portal is critical for reaching marginalized voters.
“Suburban voters were more likely to vote by mail in the Sept. 1 primary election,” Huang said. “We think that this online portal is a very necessary development to ensure that all voters, especially voters of color, naturalized citizens, young people and low-income voters can access safe elections as well.”
Huang is also glad people can use the online portal rather than the Postal Service to request a ballot, particularly with the historic delays in mail.
She also urges state lawmakers to extend the eviction and foreclosure moratorium past Oct. 17 so that, among other reasons, everyone can vote by mail.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Laura is a national producer for Public News Service. Before that, she was the news director at WRFI in Ithaca, NY, and prior to that worked as a print journalist in Israel. She has covered basically everything: technology, local government, health, social issues, peace and justice, cultural topics, etc. Her pieces have been published in the Atlantic, Business Insider, NPR News, NPR member station WSKG, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Next Web, the Jerusalem Post, Mic (formerly known as PolicyMic), the Times of Israel, Geektime, AlterNet, the Oakland Tribune, Walla! News, and the Jewish Exponent.