News

Legislature Considers Election Reforms

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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

State lawmakers were scheduled to hear testimony this week on a bill that would make major changes to Massachusetts’ election laws.

The bill, filed by Sen. Barry Finegold (D-Andover), includes a range of proposals, among them early voting, starting seven days before Election Day; on-line voter registration; pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds; and mandatory public audits of election results. It was due to come before the Joint Committee on Election Laws on April 3, after the Advocate went to press.

The proposals have the backing of a number of activist groups, including MassVOTE and Common Cause Massachusetts. In a statement prior to the hearing, Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Mass., called the reforms “common sense election modernization measures” that “will increase voter turnout, protect the integrity of election results, and ensure that our elections are free, fair, and accessible to all.”

Co-sponsors of Finegold’s bill include, from the Valley, state reps. Peter Kocot (D-Northampton), Ellen Story (D-Amherst) and Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke).

The recently formed group Progressive Massachusetts, meanwhile, says that while Finegold’s proposal “makes some substantive changes … it doesn’t go nearly far enough.” Specifically, the group wants to see reforms include Election Day voter registration, calling it “the single most effective thing we can do to increase turnout.”

A number of other election reform bills have been filed this session, including one that would allow Election Day registration, as well as one that would require audits of election equipment. A hearing last week focused on an early-voting proposal.•

Comments (2)
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Nothing will make the vote Fraud free until we go to use of a voter ID such as your drivers licence or a valid State ID and that is not being in any way a attempt to stop poor people from voting as you have to have an ppicture ID to obtain a percricption fron a pharmcy or to but cigerattes and package stores so that excuse is a weak one at best.

Posted by Ronald Bahre on 4.3.13 at 6:01

It is easier to vote now than it ever has been before. Besides town halls and libraries many organizations have people sworn in as registrars of voters. Many employers encourage their employees to vote. If anyone is not registered ( about 60% of Springfield) it is because they do not want to vote. Even among registered voters turnout is low.

One problem is there is not much choice on the ballot. In the special Senate election the voters will have no way to vote against the North America Free Trade Agreement. Green Party and Libertarian Party are not running candidates. Why? Because one’s nomination form must be signed by 10,000 registered voters. Small campaigns, which are ignored by the media, cannot get that many signatures. Every other office also has excessive signature requirements. The courts have upheld this because they do not want “ballot overcrowding.” The reality is that many incumbents are running unopposed. This so-called reform does not address this problem.

The other problem is the “wasted vote” argument where there are more than 2 candidates. Instant Runoff Voting would solve this. In IRV each voter numbers the candidates by preference. So with each iteration the loser’s votes are redistributed among the surviving candidates by the order of preference. This is very easy to do with computers for quick results. It can also have a paper trail which can be audited by hand. This so-called reform does not address this problem.

The reform legislation is designed to not pose a threat to Republicrat dominance.

Posted by Robert Underwood on 4.5.13 at 13:06
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