Voting is one of our most fundamental civil rights as citizens. But in Massachusetts, the birthplace of American democracy, both registering to vote and voting itself have become too difficult for too many people. The numbers simply don’t lie - turnout in our state primaries over the past two decades has plummeted by 30% and Massachusetts currently has over 680,000 eligible but unregistered voters. Josh is running for Secretary of State to be a champion of voting rights and voting access. As we’ve done on so many other progressive issues, it’s time for Massachusetts to lead on voter participation and expanding access to the polls. With the Trump administration's constant assaults on democracy, it’s essential that we make sure everyone’s voice is heard in Massachusetts.
Recently, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld our state's arbitrary and unnecessary 20-day voter registration deadline. While this decision was billed as a "legal victory" for Secretary Galvin, it is a huge loss for the people of Massachusetts. Over the past year, while Josh has been advocating for same-day voter registration, Galvin spent that time fighting to maintain the 20-day registration cutoff. Instead of advocating for and implementing a common-sense and orderly same-day registration system, just as 17 other states and DC have already done, Galvin wasted an entire year stalling rather than working to expand access for the voters of Massachusetts. Josh will not make the same mistake. As Secretary of State, Josh will focus his energy on immediately developing an efficient, secure way for citizens of Massachusetts to register to vote any day they wish, including election day. Massachusetts must take the lead and modernize its voter registration laws now.
Automatic Voter Registration
Josh applauds Massachusetts for becoming the 14th state, plus the District of Columbia, to adopt Automatic Voter Registration legislation in August 2018. AVR is a major step forward in making it easier for eligible residents to vote across the Commonwealth. Josh has long been an advocate for AVR. While serving on the Boston City Council, he sponsored legislation to enable the City to provide eligible residents with the opportunity to register to vote during many routine interactions with the City, such as applying for a resident parking sticker or registering their child for school. Allowing people to opt out, rather than demanding that they opt in, is a proven way to increase participation. For more than two decades, there has been a failure of leadership in Massachusetts on this issue, and as a result we are in the unfamiliar position of being a follower instead of a leader: 13 states and DC already have AVR, which has resulted in millions of new people being registered to vote across the country, but not here.
Weekend Election Days
Once people are registered to vote, we need to ensure that our elections occur on dates that will make it as simple as possible for voters to get to the polls. We know that more than half of democracies on the planet hold their elections on weekends – and it makes sense why! If you’re working two jobs, raising a family, or going to school full-time, voting during the week might not work for you. Moving our elections to the weekend is both a proven method of increasing voter turnout and an inclusive step towards accommodating our diverse schedules. This year, for the first time in the 124 years that Labor Day has been a national holiday, Secretary Galvin chose to hold our primary election on the day after the holiday. Instead of prioritizing access for voters, Galvin once again prioritized the status quo. We need bold elected officials who are willing to find election dates that maximize turnout. There’s no reason why many of our state and local elections have to take place on an arbitrary Tuesday. If elected, Josh will immediately champion weekend election days and work with the legislature to make them a reality.
No-Excuse Absentee Voting
Whenever an election day is scheduled, inevitably, some people will still be unable to get to the polls for a variety of reasons. Right now, in order to get an absentee ballot in Massachusetts, you are required to give an “approved” excuse. Josh believes that if voting absentee is right for you, you should not need an excuse. Providing no-excuse absentee voting, by mail or in person, is yet another common-sense, simple way to increase voter access and turnout, and something Massachusetts could and should be doing already. If you are a registered voter in Massachusetts, it is your inalienable right to participate in our democracy, and it is the duty of the Secretary of State to provide you access to that right.
Ranked Choice Voting
Our elected officials should represent us, and that means being elected by an outright majority of voters. But all too often, in Massachusetts and across the country, this is simply not the case. Crowded fields in elections are great for the health of democracy but can produce anomalous results and extremely low winning margins of victory. Josh believes that Ranked Choice Voting is a straightforward solution to this problem. It encourages candidates to reach out to as many voters as possible, rather than simply trying to appeal to a narrow but sufficient plurality. Numerous democracies throughout the world, dozens of American cities, and the State of Maine have all enacted RCV without difficulty and to great success. Massachusetts has an opportunity to stand at the forefront as an American leader on RCV, and as Secretary, Josh is ready to seize that moment. Our system for counting the vote should always reflect the popular will of the people.
Josh is steadfast in his commitment to modernizing the security of our elections system in the age of Trump and the Russia hacks of 2016. While modernization does not mean moving to an entirely electronic system, it remains vital that we understand the technological capabilities of those who seek to undermine our democratic process and institute robust measures (both physical and electronic) to counteract them. Burying our heads in the sand about technology is not a solution - Secretary Galvin openly refuses to use email and this reflects a dangerous attitude towards innovation and the future. That’s why Josh is already working with experts in the fields of cybersecurity and elections security to develop a plan to strengthen our elections system’s defensive capacities. On his first day in office Josh will create a sorely-needed, 24/7 cybersecurity team within the Secretary of State's elections division. He will also lead the charge to implement risk-limiting audits in Massachusetts, which would modernize our antiquated election audit laws with a more proficient system and save the Commonwealth money.