BOSTON – On Thursday, March 11, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Representative Rich Haggerty (D-Woburn), and Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington), joined their colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature to pass legislation to extend mail-in voting and early voting options for elections held through the end of June 2021. The vote-by-mail provision was previously set to expire at the end of March 2021.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is not over; we must continue to ensure that Massachusetts voters can safely cast their ballot in our upcoming elections without risking exposure to the virus,” said Senator Friedman. “Utilizing vote-by-mail until June 2021 will protect the democratic process and promote voter participation—a valuable voting tool that should become permanent in Massachusetts. I applaud my Senate colleagues and our municipal election officials for their leadership and work to safeguard our elections.”
“As we continue to deal with the effects of COVID on our daily lives we must safeguard our democratic elections and provide safe access to the voting process for all those who wish to participate,” said Representative Haggerty. “Importantly, this bill will allow municipalities to utilize many of the same voting reforms that worked so well last summer and fall including no excuse absentee voting and early in-person voting. We must continue to make sure we protect both voters and poll workers from the risk of contracting this deadly virus.”
“Voting is the bedrock of our democracy,” said Representative Ciccolo. “Ensuring that all eligible voters in the Commonwealth are able to cast a ballot safely and securely is our fundamental responsibility as legislators, and by extending mail-in voting we are fulfilling this goal. As we look to learn from the silver linings of the pandemic, we have seen how successful mail-in voting has been, and how it has helped drive greater voter participation. Going forward, I will be advocating to make mail-in voting and early voting a permanent option, and I am excited to work with my colleagues to make that happen. Anything that increases ballot access for our constituents should be a top priority.”
The bill allows municipalities to provide residents with the option to vote early in-person in these elections. Additionally, the legislation requires local election officials to make reasonable efforts to grant accommodations for voters with disabilities who might have difficulty accessing a paper mail-in ballot and request an accommodation. Furthermore, cities and towns can postpone municipal elections and caucuses scheduled before June 30, 2021 until August 1, 2021.
The bill was sent to the Governor for consideration and was signed into law on March 16, 2021.