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Press Release

Automatic Voter Registration Now Law in Massachusetts

Massachusetts’ Republican governor signed a bill today to bring automatic voter registration to the Bay State.

August 9, 2018

Boston, MA – Massachu­setts’ Repub­lican governor signed a bill today to bring auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion to the Bay State. The reform — which recently passed the state’s Demo­cratic legis­lature with bipar­tisan support — stream­lines the voter regis­tra­tion process, increases the accur­acy of voter rolls, and boosts voter parti­cip­a­tion. With Gov. Charlie Baker’s signa­ture, Massachu­setts joins Illinois, Mary­land, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Wash­ing­ton, which have also passed AVR bills since 2017.

“Today contin­ues an incred­ible three-year run of success for AVR,” said Jonathan Brater, Coun­sel with the Bren­nan Center’s Demo­cracy Program. “The diverse group of organ­iz­a­tions and support­ers that formed around AVR in Massachu­setts points to even more success in the years ahead.”

“We are thrilled that Massachu­setts is join­ing the list of states to adopt auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion,” said Pam Wilmot, Exec­ut­ive Director of Common Cause Massachu­setts. “Voting will be more access­ible and more secure, which bene­fits voters, elec­tion offi­cials, and demo­cracy as a whole.”

Oregon, Cali­for­nia, Vermont, West Virginia, Alaska, Color­ado, and Geor­gia, along with Wash­ing­ton, D.C., have adop­ted AVR in the last three years. Under AVR, indi­vidu­als are registered to vote when they inter­act with certain govern­ment agen­cies like a state’s Depart­ment of Motor Vehicles, unless they decline to be registered. The bill takes effect before the 2020 elec­tion and passed both houses of the legis­lature with broad support, includ­ing a unan­im­ous vote in the Senate. It was intro­duced by Sen. Cynthia Creem and the late Rep. Peter Kocot.

Massachu­setts will have auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion at the state Registry of Motor Vehicles as well as state health­care agen­cies within the MassHealth program. Indi­vidu­als who visit these agen­cies and are eligible to vote will be registered unless they decline. The Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law has long suppor­ted efforts to get this bill passed. In Novem­ber 2016, the Bren­nan Center co-hosted a confer­ence at Suffolk Univer­sity with Common Cause at Suffolk Univer­sity in Boston.

A wide range of groups worked to together to support the bill, includ­ing the Elec­tion Modern­iz­a­tion Coali­tion, led by Common Cause Massachu­setts, the League of Women Voters or Massachu­setts, MASSPIRG, Mass­VOTE, the Massachu­setts Voter Table, ACLU of Massachu­setts, and Progress­ive Massachu­setts. Secret­ary of State Bill Galvin also suppor­ted the legis­la­tion.

For more inform­a­tion or to connect with an expert at the Bren­nan Center, contact Stephen Fee at stephen.fee@nyu.edu.