News Massachusetts Senate approves bill to permanently adopt COVID-era voting reforms and allow same-day voter registration

The state Senate voted in favor of an election reform bill on Wednesday that would permanently adopt mail-in voting and expanded early voting methods, as well as allow voters to register and cast their ballots on the same day, according to State House News Service (SHNS).

The bill (S.2545) would also establish additional supports for people with disabilities, in order to remove obstacles to the ballot box and to maintain voting options that proved popular during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office, 3,657,972 votes were cast in the Nov. 3 election, topping the state’s previous record by nearly 300,000 votes and representing roughly 76 percent turnout.

The Senate passed the bill by a 36-3 vote. State lawmakers previously enacted legislation to temporarily extend vote-by-mail and early voting options through Dec. 15.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, which has already considered some parts of it in other forms.  According to SHNS, the House rejected a same-day voter registration proposal last year and in June approved a supplemental budget amendment that would have permanently authorized mail-in voting and early voting before biennial elections.

Gov. Charlie Baker has supported mail-in voting, and signed the laws implementing and extending pandemic-era voting options, but is opposed to same-day voter registration, according to SHNS.

If signed into law, the legislation would be a win for CareVote — the Council’s nonpartisan voter engagement initiative — which encourages all human services employees, clients, consumers, board members and friends to register to vote and to support caring communities.

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