Baker: Application-based vote-by-mail “really effective”

Boston Statehouse

FILE – In this Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, file photo, a person drops applications for mail-in-ballots into a mailbox in Omaha, Neb. Data obtained by The Associated Press shows Postal Service districts across the nation are missing the agency’s own standards for on-time delivery as millions of Americans prepare to vote by mail. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

BOSTON (SHNS) – Governor Charlie Baker suggested Tuesday that he would be open to keeping in place at least some elements of the law that this year allows people to vote by mail without an excuse in order to encourage participation despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

A law Baker signed in early July expanded the availability of early voting this year and authorized all voters who wish to do so to cast a ballot via mail this year without needing to qualify for an absentee ballot.

The law instructed the secretary of state’s office to mail every voter an application to request a mail-in ballot for the primaries on Sept. 1 and the Nov. 3 general election.

“I support the application process. I don’t support ‘just send ballots to everybody everywhere.’ I have friends who get ballots from New Jersey who haven’t lived there in 10 years. I think that’s a really dumb way to do this,” Baker said Tuesday after walking away from the lectern at the end of a press conference. “I think the application process, as I have said before feels to me like absentee balloting on steroids, I think is a really effective way to get it done.”

Baker did not directly answer whether he would support an expanded vote-by-mail system beyond the 2020 pandemic, but voiced support for the system that’s in place now and said city and clerks have shown they can handle the increase in ballots received by mail.

As of Monday, Secretary of State William Galvin’s office said 2,251,236 people had already either voted early or have applied to vote by mail — that’s just more than 48 percent of all registered voters.

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