With voting rights under attack, the Massachusetts Election Reform Bill is a way we can strike back to make sure everyone can vote and every vote is counted right in 2012 and beyond. The Election Laws Reform bill of 2012 (H.4139 full text pdf) passed the State House with overwhelming support at the end of May. For this bill to become law, it must pass the State Senate too. The Election Laws Reform Act will:
- Mandate random post-election hand-count audits to ensure that voting machines are working correctly and that your vote is counted accurately.
- Let 16 and 17-year-olds pre-register to vote so they are ready to vote the day they turn 18.
- Let voters download and print out voter registration forms.
- Improve training of election officers so they can better protect every citizen’s right to vote.
We need this bill to make sure everyone can vote and every vote is counted right in 2012 and beyond.
Organizations calling for passage of H. 4139: Common Cause, League of Women Voters, AFL-CIO of Mass, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Mass., Alliance to Develop Power (ADP), Boston Tenant Coalition, Boston Workers Alliance, Brazilian Women’s Group, Cambridge/Somerville For Change, Charles Group Consulting, Chinese Progressive Association, Clean Water Action Massachusetts, Coalition Against Poverty, Coalition for Social Justice, Coalition of Worcester Retirees, Common Cause, Dominican American National Roundtable, East Boston Ecumenical Community Council, Fall River Joint Tenant Council, Garrison Trotter Neighborhood Association, Jobs with Justice, Lawrence Community Works, Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, League of Women Voters of Boston, Massachusetts Peace Action, Mass Senior Action Council, Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, Massachusetts Alliance of HUD Tenants, Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers, MassEquality, MIRA Coalition, Massachusetts New Partnership Team, Massachusetts Teachers Association, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, MASSPIRG, MassVOTE, National Association of Social Workers, MA Chapter, Neighbor to Neighbor, Neighbors United for a Better East Boston, New England United for Justice, North Shore Health Project, Oiste: The MA Latino Civic Education Organization, O’Neill and Associates, Project RIGHT, Inc., Public Policy Institute, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), 615, 1199 SEIU, The ARC of Massachusetts, The Initiative for Engaged Citizenship, The Springfield Institute, United Teen Equality Center, Universal Voices, Young Democrats of Massachusetts.
Detailed Summary for H4139.
Advocates have called the bill the most significant election administration reform in decades.
5 main provisions
- • Mandates random post-election audits to ensure that our electronic voting machines are working correctly, so that our votes are properly counted.
• Allows young Massachusetts residents to pre-register to vote when they turn 16, greatly increasing the number who will actually vote when they turn 18.
• Allows voters to download and print out voter registration forms.
• Requires periodic training of election officers to keep them current on the laws.
- • Taskforce for smooth implementation.
- Requires chief election officers in each municipality to attend annual training.
- Allows Secretary to standardize information, share best practices, and keep officials current in their knowledge.
Downloadable, print-your-own voter registration forms:
- Requires the Secretary of State to make the voter registration form available as a downloadable PDF document that voters may either a) fill in online and then print, sign and send in, or b) print out blank and then fill in, sign, and send in.
- Brings Massachusetts in line with virtually every other state.
- Long-overdue, common sense reform.
- Will save money because state will not have to print and mail as many forms and will make it more convenient for voters.
Pre-registration of 16 and 17 year-olds:
- Gives 16 and 17 year-olds the option to fill out the registration form anytime on or after their 16th birthday so that they are ready to vote the day they turn 18.
- Simplifies the law and allows teens to register to vote when they get their drivers license.
- Could result in about 21,000 additional voter registrations per year, 9 new registrations per precinct, and increase the participation of 18 and 19 year-olds by 5 to 10% if experience in other states holds true.
- Massachusetts will join California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, and Rhode Island in enacting this reform.
- Requires a random hand-count audit of election results in 3% of Massachusetts precincts following each state and federal election, including primaries.
- Ensures that vote counts in MA are accurate and machines are working properly.
- A common-sense business practice that will increase public confidence and potentially reveal new information about best practices and machine reliability.
- Twenty-six states in the US have post-election audits. California has had audits for more than 30 years.
- Other states use federal funds to pay for their audits and Massachusetts can too.
- To ensure smooth implementation of the legislation. The taskforce will be made up of representatives from Massachusetts cities of and towns of varying populations as well as members of the legislature, the Secretary of the Commonwealth and voting rights groups such as MassVOTE, League of Women Voters, the NAACP and others.