Below appears the Senate President’s official press release regarding Automatic Voter Registration
BOSTON – Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed H.4671, An Act automatically registering eligible voters and enhancing safeguards against fraud. The legislation creates a framework in which eligible voters will be automatically registered to vote when receiving services from the Registry of Motor vehicles, MassHealth, and other participating state agencies. The framework will be overseen and implemented by the Secretary of State.
“It should be the state’s burden to register voters – not yours,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “Long work hours and confusion about the registration process are barriers for many citizens. Thousands of Massachusetts citizens are eligible to vote today, but aren’t registered. Registering to vote must be as simple as possible, and this legislation implements a process where any eligible citizen receiving certain state services is automatically registered. Today is a major victory for voting rights and social justice.”
The legislation also bolsters voter-data security. It updates the requirements for transmission of voter registration affidavits and requires the Secretary of State to promulgate regulations to ensure registration is done through electronic transmission, with data security protocols and integration with the online portals.
“Voting is a fundamental right for all citizens in a democracy and we ought to make the process as straightforward as possible,” said Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Stone Creem (D-Newton). “This issue is central to the strength of our electoral process because all eligible voters deserve the opportunity to exercise their rights.”
“Automatic voter registration will allow the Commonwealth to work towards making sure that the hundreds of thousands of eligible citizens who are currently not registered to vote can participate in our democracy,” remarked Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Senate Chair of the Election Laws Committee. “Enacting this legislation will help engage more individuals politically while giving the Commonwealth a valuable tool that will help clean up active voter lists and ensure that they are clear and free of error.”
“Automatic voter registration is a much needed update to our registration process to encourage citizens from across the state to participate in our democracy, bring our voter rolls up-to-date and improve the security of our elections process,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
“This bill seeks to advance our common goal of increasing voter registration, but it must also protect the integrity of the electoral process, said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Importantly, it does so by increasing the sharing of information and cross-referencing that information to combat voter fraud.”
The legislation increases penalties associated with voter fraud. It orders that whoever knowingly provides false information in connection with automatic voter registration shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years or both.