BOSTON (SHNS) – Voters in several Massachusetts communities will be unable to cast no-excuse ballots by mail for upcoming contests, including a potentially heated recall election, because of the Legislature’s “inability to have an adult conversation,” the state’s top elections official said Tuesday.
In an interview on WBUR, Secretary of State William Galvin criticized legislative leaders for failing to find consensus on how to keep pandemic-era election reforms in place — either temporarily or permanently — before they are set to expire Wednesday. Galvin said special elections scheduled in the next three months in communities such as Concord, Wellesley and Duxbury will revert to operating under traditional rules, where voters must apply for an absentee ballot or visit their polling place in-person. Some of those races are contested, he said, including a Jan. 3 election to fill a seat on Norwood’s select board.
On Jan. 24, Galvin said, voters will go to the polls in a recall election for two Belchertown School Committee members “over the issue of potential vaccine mandate.” “Many people who may be concerned about going out to vote in-person, legitimately or not, maybe they have issues they’re personally concerned about — they will not have an opportunity to vote by mail,” Galvin said.
The House and Senate have each separately approved making mail-in voting and expanded early voting permanent, but the House has not shared in the Senate’s support for allowing prospective voters to register and cast a ballot on the same day. Since the summer, both branches have been unable to agree on a legislative vehicle to keep the popular policies in place. Galvin, a Democrat, contrasted the situation in Massachusetts to other states where he said lawmakers have pursued and enacted “far more sinister” voting reforms.
“Here, we just have an inability to have an adult conversation about something that’s very important. I think it’s an issue of priority. Voters need to tell their legislators straight up: this is a priority,” he said. “Even if it’s a legitimate, well-intentioned disagreement between people — which we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that it is — it’s no excuse to not having an option for voters for these important offices and significant offices at the local level.”