Zakim's Voter Registration Access Bill Unanimously Approved by City Council

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

BOSTON -- The Boston City Council this afternoon unanimously passed an ordinance authored by District 8 Councilor Josh Zakim (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill, Fenway-Kenmore, West End) that expands availability and reduces barriers for residents to register to vote. Once enacted, this will increase access to government for thousands of Bostonians.

The legislation now goes to Mayor Martin J. Walsh for his approval.

"I'm thrilled that my colleagues agree with me on the importance of reducing barriers to voter registration, and that the city is doing all that we can to encourage more people to register and to vote," Zakim said. "Soon, it will be much easier for all eligible Bostonians to have their voices heard by exercising one of their most sacred civil rights - the right to vote."

The ordinance will make it easier for eligible Bostonians to register to vote during routine interactions with city government. It requires Boston Public Schools's high schools and welcome centers, Boston Public Library's neighborhood branches, and Boston Centers for Youth and Families' community centers to make voter registration forms available and visible in central locations. Further, it requires the Office of the Parking Clerk to provide registration forms to residents applying for neighborhood parking permits, and to share all completed forms with the Boston Elections Department.

Zakim initially filed the proposal in 2017 after the City Council adopted a resolution he offered last year endorsing a statewide bill for Automatic Voter Registration (AVR).

"This is a proactive step that we are taking in the City of Boston while we continue to wait for the state to enact AVR," he said. "Ultimately, we need to get statewide AVR to help reverse the downward trend of voter turnout in Massachusetts. It's too important an issue for the people of our Commonwealth."