Massachusetts lawmakers work to secure voting rights to inmates

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP) – Earlier on Monday, state lawmakers discussed ways to enhance voting rights for incarcerated residents.

This is a major problem for many state lawmakers and they want inmates to know that many of them still have the right to vote even when they are behind bars. In Massachusetts, inmates that are detained ahead of a trial or for a misdemeanor offense can still cast their vote.

A bill filed this session would require correctional facilities to help eligible inmates register to vote, apply for and return mail-in ballots, and understand their voting rights.

“Everyone who’s eligible to vote should have access to ballots and applications for ballots and the like, and yet we’re finding that that’s not always the case,” Senator Adam Hinds told 22News.

Inmates that are held on a felony offense cannot vote in the state of Massachusetts, but each year about 8,000 incarcerated residents miss out on their chance to vote because they are not given the tools to do so while they are behind bars. This session lawmakers are determined to change that.

Now this is only one piece of the VOTES Act which was filed in the Senate last week. The bill if signed into law would also establish same-day voter registration, permanent mail-in voting, and additional in-person early voting opportunities.

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