Galvin continues to prod lawmakers on voting reforms

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – While he supports the underlying change, Secretary of State William Galvin is newly knocking the House’s permanent mail-in voting authorization for failing to cover the dozens of city and town elections that will take place this summer and fall.

Galvin said House and Senate lawmakers, who so far have taken different routes to pursue the use of no-excuse absentee ballots beyond the June 30 expiration of a pandemic-era policy, “really need to get their act together” with the administration of several upcoming local elections at stake.

“Going into city elections in Boston, in Lawrence, in Lynn, many cities that are having open mayoral races, there will not be the option to have vote by mail with no excuse unless the Legislature does something,” Galvin said in an interview with WCVB’s “On the Record” that aired Sunday. “The Senate did, but the House didn’t follow suit. The House, on the other hand, put forward a rider on the budget that authorized vote by mail next year, in 2022. That’s good, too, but that doesn’t solve the problem this year.”

The Senate proposed extending the existing vote-by-mail authorization into December, but that provision did not survive talks with the House over an initial batch of COVID policy extensions. House Democrats separately approved making mail-in voting and expanded early voting a permanent feature, but only starting in 2022 for biennial state elections, state primaries, or municipal elections held at the same time as a state election. Legislative leaders have not indicated how or whether they plan to address the impending vote-by-mail expiration that will affect municipalities, and Galvin said prompt action is particularly important for cities like Boston that have preliminary elections on Sept. 14.

“This is the typical legislative give and take that goes on, and that’s fine, except that we’re up against the clock here. This is so important,” Galvin, a Democrat, said. “What really makes it important is this: around the country, we’ve seen ruthlessly efficient efforts to curtail voters’ rights. Here we are, all agreeing — the governor, Republican and Democratic legislators on both sides — and we can’t get it done. Whereas in these other states where they’re curtailing voting rights, they are unfortunately getting it done all too fast.”

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