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Legislature Considers Election Reforms

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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

State lawmakers were scheduled to hear testimony this week on a bill that would make major changes to Massachusetts’ election laws.

The bill, filed by Sen. Barry Finegold (D-Andover), includes a range of proposals, among them early voting, starting seven days before Election Day; on-line voter registration; pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds; and mandatory public audits of election results. It was due to come before the Joint Committee on Election Laws on April 3, after the Advocate went to press.

The proposals have the backing of a number of activist groups, including MassVOTE and Common Cause Massachusetts. In a statement prior to the hearing, Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Mass., called the reforms “common sense election modernization measures” that “will increase voter turnout, protect the integrity of election results, and ensure that our elections are free, fair, and accessible to all.”

Co-sponsors of Finegold’s bill include, from the Valley, state reps. Peter Kocot (D-Northampton), Ellen Story (D-Amherst) and Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke).

The recently formed group Progressive Massachusetts, meanwhile, says that while Finegold’s proposal “makes some substantive changes … it doesn’t go nearly far enough.” Specifically, the group wants to see reforms include Election Day voter registration, calling it “the single most effective thing we can do to increase turnout.”

A number of other election reform bills have been filed this session, including one that would allow Election Day registration, as well as one that would require audits of election equipment. A hearing last week focused on an early-voting proposal.•

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