Election Day Registration
I enthusiastically support Election Day Registration, which removes many of the barriers facing people who wish to cast their vote. Fifteen states currently allow it, including Connecticut, Maine and New Hampshire. In 2017’s Chelsea Collaborative v. Galvin, Suffolk Superior Court called the Massachusetts 20-day registration deadline arbitrary and unconstitutional. Instead of working with the Legislature to find a constitutionally-sound solution, the current Secretary of State has appealed the decision, opting to let the status quo prevail for another election cycle.
As Secretary of State, I will uphold the court’s decision and work with lawmakers to establish an open and secure Election Day Registration process.
Massachusetts has seen embarrassingly low turnout during non-presidential elections over the last 20 years, and the plummeting participation rate among voters in Massachusetts is directly attributable to the current Secretary of State's lack of leadership and vision. Massachusetts was a late adopter of early voting, doing it for the first time just last year. Secretary Galvin wants to do it again this year, asking the Legislature for five early voting days for the primary – but during the last week of August. He even scheduled the primary for the day after Labor Day, a cynical maneuver that will further depress turnout. It is hard to imagine primary turnout getting any lower. Since 2002, primary voting has gone down 30 percent, which translates to nearly 300,000 fewer people exercising their right to vote.
As Secretary of State, I’ll work tirelessly to increase turnout, doing everything in my power to improve poll access for any eligible voter wishing to participate.
People’s lives are busy and it can sometimes be hard to get to the polls on Election
Day. When trying to figure out why voter turnout is so low, you only have to look at people working multiple jobs, juggling child care and commitments at home, as well as myriad other responsibilities. We should make it easier by considering elections on weekends. Currently, 70 countries around the world have weekend voting – about 57 percent of all democracies. When Secretary Galvin solicited public comments earlier this year about when to schedule the state primary, I suggested the weekend of September 15-16. Unfortunately, the Secretary ignored my recommendation and opted for the day after Labor Day.
As Secretary of State, I will commission a feasibility study on weekend voting and its effect on voter turnout.
Early & Absentee Voting
I fully support both of these efforts, and will work to implement them. While Massachusetts was late to embrace early voting, the five-day period it was allowed before the 2016 election showed promise. I was excited to see it continue this year, but Secretary Galvin’s idea for five days of early voting the last week of August – when many people are on vacation or beginning the new school year – is ineffective.
I also support no excuse absentee voting. Currently, you need to prove you’ll be out of town on Election Day, have a physical disability that prevents you from getting to your polling place or have a religious belief that prohibits you from voting on that particular day. But what about the people who are too busy at their job, or working several jobs, or caring for children, or parents, or grandchildren? Or voters who have limited access to transportation? Those aren’t covered by the allowable excuses. We need to open up absentee ballots to any eligible voter who wants to get one. Requiring someone to provide a reason for not being able to vote on Election Day is just another barrier to allowing someone to exercise this fundamental right.
As Secretary of State, I will schedule elections and the accompanying early voting periods on reasonable dates that allow as many people as possible to get to the polls. Additionally, I will work with the Legislature to expand the absentee voting law to allow for no excuse absentee voting.
The Secretary of State is the Supervisor of Public Records, but access to Massachusetts public records is becoming more and more limited. In 2015, the Center for Public Integrity gave the Commonwealth an “F” for its public access to information, citing its low-tech approach denies “easy online access to the statements of financial interests filed annually by legislators, judges, elected officials and high-ranking state employees.” For records that are available, the Secretary makes them hard to access by overseeing a system that charges unreasonably high fees (an average of $3,783 per request). The Massachusetts Public Records Law, which nearly parallels the federal Freedom of Information Act, requires all papers, pictures, memos, tapes and financial records, among many others, to be disclosed to the public upon request unless they fall within one of 16 exemptions (which include, among others, personnel files and medical files). Simply put, people are being kept from seeing what rightfully belongs to them.
As Secretary of State, I will ensure the public can access all of the records they want to see with limited exemptions. I will digitize as many records as possible and put them online, which will significantly reduce the fees. These records are paid for by the public and belong to the public, and they have every right to access them.