BOSTON – Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed An Act automatically registering eligible voters and enhancing safeguards against fraud. The legislation creates a framework in which eligible voters will be automatically registered to vote when receiving services from the Registry of Motor Vehicles, MassHealth, and other participating state agencies. The framework will be overseen and implemented by the Secretary of State.
“The passage of Automatic Voter Registration in Massachusetts will expand access to the ballot for eligible residents, invigorate civic engagement in our communities, and ultimately bolster the health of our democracy in Massachusetts by lowering barriers to the ballot and encouraging active participation,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Assistant Majority Whip. “Automatic Voter Registration eliminates unnecessary obstacles for eligible voters, and will go a long way to involve the nearly 680,000 unregistered eligible voters in the state in the democratic process.”
“It should be the state’s burden to register voters – not yours,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler. “Long work hours and confusion about the registration process are barriers for many citizens. Thousands of Massachusetts citizens are eligible to vote today, but aren’t registered. Registering to vote must be as simple as possible, and this legislation implements a process where any eligible citizen receiving certain state services is automatically registered. Today is a major victory for voting rights and social justice.”
The legislation also bolsters voter-data security. It updates the requirements for transmission of voter registration affidavits and requires the Secretary of State to promulgate regulations to ensure registration is done through electronic transmission, with data security protocols and integration with the online portals.
The legislation increases penalties associated with voter fraud. It orders that whoever knowingly provides false information in connection with automatic voter registration shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years or both.