March 4, 2020
To the Editor:
Election Day registration simply is not new as states like Minnesota, Maine, and Wisconsin have used it since the 1970s and it is now the law in 21 states, plus D.C. We know that EDR works, and is easy to implement. It’s time for Massachusetts to step up and make election day registration bills (H. 636, H. 685, and S. 396) a reality as soon as possible.
Massachusetts currently gives voters up to 20 days before elections to register in order to be considered eligible to vote. This 20-day deadline routinely disenfranchises thousands of eligible individuals who simply seek to have their voice heard, especially with many unfamiliar with the voting process who may not even be aware of it, or simply forget it. Same-day registration would eliminate that deadline, allowing eligible individuals to register on Election Day, and cast their votes. It would also make it possible for individuals to correct minor mistakes on their registration, such as an incorrect address, which may currently prevent them from voting.
A study by the National Conference of State Legislatures shows that following the implementation of Election Day Registration (EDR), states see an increased voter turnout rate as high as 7 percent, with an average of 5 percent. States with EDR typically exceed other states in terms of turnout percentages. States with EDR also have historically produced higher voter numbers. Finally, EDR does not shape partisan outcomes or benefit specific populations, making the process fair and balanced to all potential voters.
Unnecessary restrictions that we have should no longer impede individuals from speaking their minds at the polls. I will encourage my state legislators to do all in their power to make EDR law and I hope that you will as well so voting will be easier for everybody in our great Commonwealth.
- Matthew J. Shochat,
The writer is an associate member of the Boston Ward 17 Democratic Committee.