BOSTON (WWLP) – The VOTES Act will expand voting rights in Massachusetts.

22News explains the challenge it faced and where it stands now.

The VOTES Act passed with sweeping majorities in the House and Senate and was signed by the Governor in June, but it faced a challenge that tried to say parts of the bill were unconstitutional. No-excuse mail-in voting became an extremely popular option during COVID-19. Under the VOTES Act, this became a permanent feature for presidential, state, and municipal elections.

Massachusetts’ Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons and others filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the mail-in voting and early voting aspect of the law. The GOP argued that the Massachusetts constitution only allows for absentee voting if the voter will be out of town on election day, has a disability, or has a religious-based conflict. The defendants argued that mail-in voting is a form of early voting, which is separate from Election Day and absentee voting.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of early voting and vote-by-mail.

“This is a great benefit to getting people to vote, making it easier for people to vote, and as I said, it applies to everybody, everybody can do it, Republicans have done it, Independents can do it, Democrats can do it, so I’m very proud of the result,” said Bill Galvin, Secretary of State.

The ruling now allows Secretary Galvin to begin sending ballot applications by the July 23rd deadline, although he said today that ballots will start arriving to some voters as early as Saturday.

All ballots will be sent with pre-paid postage and a unique barcode specific to each voter.

The deadline for voters to apply for a mail-in ballot for the September 6th primaries is August 29th.