Advocates lobby lawmakers to pass automatic voter registration bill

Nearly 700,000 Massachusetts citizens are not registered to vote

BOSTON (WWLP)—Nearly 700,000 Massachusetts citizens are not registered to vote. Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a bill that would create an automatic voter registration, which lobbyists said could make elections more accurate and inclusive.

“Voting is a right, not a privilege,” State Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) said. She is the lead sponsor of the Senate’s automatic voter registration bill.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said the legislation would help reduce barriers to participation and make elections more accessible.

Dozens of activists are urging the state to adopt an automatic voter registration system that would require voters to opt-out rather than to opt-in. Here’s how it works: when a Massachusetts resident updates their license or changes their address with MassHealth, they will automatically be registered to vote if they are eligible. They would have to notify the state by mail that they do not want to be added to the voter rolls or do not want their address changed.

“Automatic voter registration reflects upon our need to make everybody have an easier time voting,” Creem said.

The automatic voter registration bill is backed by 61 organizations, including western Massachusetts-based groups Berkshire Democratic Brigades and Action Together Western Mass.

Under the bill, the Secretary of State would implement regulations for automated voter registration.

But Secretary of State William Glavin sees some logistical problems with the proposal and said it could lead to chaos in the election process.

Secretary Galvin was not available to go on camera, but sent a statement to 22News that said:”I have been engaged in ongoing communications and consultation with the advocates regarding their various proposals.”

The bill currently rests in the hands of the Election Laws Committee.