With the Legislature back in session this month MassVOTE was pushing for improved election laws once again. For MassVOTE much of this year and next will be focused on the successful implementation of major reforms passed last session — online voter registration, early voting, pre-registration for teens, and post-election audits of voting machines – but that doesn’t mean we stop our push for even more improvements to our voting system up at the State House.
You can check out our legislative priorities for 2015-2016 here. We’ll of course continue the push for reforms passed last year in the Senate (but not the House) like Election Day Registration and Permanent Registration. We also, with your help, made a big push for co-sponsors of the We the People Act in which the State Legislature would call on Congress to pass an amendment to the Constitution overturning Citizens United – and if Congress doesn’t act join a growing number of states in pushing for a state-led constitutional convention on the topic. Your emails and calls worked – 81 legislators (40% of the Legislature) signed on as co-sponsors.
The legislative session may just be getting started but we’re off to a great start.
Democracy for Nonprofits
In January we had a chance to de-brief with many of our Civic Engagement Initiative (CEI) grantees and talk about the success and challenges they faced in turning out voters in the Fall 2014 elections. We also had a chance to dig into the numbers. For the November election our CEI grantees:
• worked in 14 different cities
• registered 8,073 people to vote
• contacted 27,461 potential voters
• 61.9% of the people CEI contacted came out to vote, compared to 51.1% turnout for people in the same communities who were not targeted by CEI.
A more than 10% increase in voter participation with the efforts of our Civic Engagement Initiative is a great success.
Young Civic Leaders
Three new teens joined our youth program as we kicked off our new term this January. Our veteran Young Civic Leaders have been teaching the new students all about pre-registration. In fact, the youth have started brainstorming implementation tactics for reaching out to young people when pre-registration goes into effect Summer 2016. The Young Civic Leaders (and the rest of the MassVOTE Team) also had a chance to go on a field trip to see the movie Selma on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday in January. Most of our new teens didn’t know that many of the freedom marches were in response to the denial of voting rights and said the movie really opened their eyes in connecting the work of the civil rights leaders then and the work they are doing now.
A Year in Review
October/Early November Round-Up