BOSTON (SHNS) – Lawmakers tasked with reaching compromise on legislation to make mail-in voting a permanent part of the Massachusetts electoral landscape are set to hold their first meeting Thursday, more than two months after they were appointed to hash out differences between the House and Senate bills.

House Assistant Majority Leader Michael Moran and Sen. Barry Finegold, co-chair of the Election Laws Committee, were tapped Feb. 3 to lead the conference talks along with Rep. Dan Ryan, Rep. Shawn Dooley, Sen. Cynthia Creem, and Sen. Ryan Fattman.

A Finegold aide confirmed that Thursday’s gathering, at 2 p.m. in Room 222 of the State House, will be the panel’s first official meeting — but said that conferees had already been communicating with each other. Lawmakers are not subject to the open meeting law and conference committees typically close deliberations to outsiders as the first piece of business upon convening publicly.

Both chambers passed bills (S 2554 / H 4367) that include permanent mail-in voting and expanded early voting, reforms that got a trial run during the pandemic. The Senate bill also includes Election Day voter registration, a concept the House opted to commission a study on rather than vote to legalize. Spring municipal elections are underway using pre-pandemic rules, and the statewide primary elections are in five months. State elections officials have begun preparing for mail-in voting on the assumption that the conference committee will report a bill before the fall.

Secretary of State William Galvin’s office has “already taken steps to prepare for that,” such as buying paper, said spokeswoman Deb O’Malley. “So we can prepare for that now with the assumption that it will happen, and obviously we’ll need additional funding and things like that if it does,” O’Malley said. “But the sticking point, as ever, is Election Day/same-day registration. That’s where the bill differs, and we don’t know whether or not it’s going to happen. But if it does move forward with that effective date of July, obviously time will make that difficult, the longer they wait.”