Jim Lyons, Massachusetts Republicans Working On Voter ID Ballot Question

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2021/07/08/jim-lyons-massachusetts-republicans-working-on-voter-id-ballot-question/

Massachusetts Republican Party chairman Jim Lyons understands that the votes don’t exist in the Massachusetts Legislature to enact voter ID in the Commonwealth.

However, Lyons and other Republicans believe that there is enough support for voter ID in the state to make it happen — through the ballot box.

Jim Lyons and members of the MassGOP hope to get two questions on the November 2022 ballot. One would restore protection in state law for babies born alive after an attempted abortion, as NewBostonPost covered last month. Within the last week, the party announced another one:  a voter ID initiative.

Lyons and other Massachusetts Republicans plan to create a ballot committee separate from the MassGOP to work on the initiative.

initiative want photo ID specifically.

Lyons said the reason why they want voter ID is simple:  “election integrity”.

“Everyone is concerned about the integrity of our elections,” Lyons said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “We had a lot of folks working on an election committee and they felt that we needed to try to take some action to draw some attention to it. This is an issue that everyone understands. You have to use your driver’s license for a lot of things, so why would anyone oppose having to show your identification to vote?” 

Lyons identified two other GOP figures as working on the initiative:  Republican state committeewoman Kathy Lynch of Westford and Tatyana Semyrog, a Duxbury resident who ran for state representative last year.

Nationwide, voter ID is popular. A June 2021 Monmouth poll showed 80 percent of voters support it, including majorities of Republicans (91 percent), Democrats (62 percent), and independents (87 percent).

Lyons told NewBostonPost that he is confident there is widespread bipartisan support for voter ID among voters themselves. However, he said that along with the born-alive protection initiative he and others are working on, voter ID is an example of an issue where the Democratic majority in the legislature fails to represent the will of the people.

“I think what we’re recognizing is that it’s so difficult to get legislation passed on Beacon Hill and yet, we believe that there’s people across the whole spectrum that support these two issues,” Lyons said. “We believe it’s important to have the infrastructure so that people can have their voices heard as this legislature seems to be moving radically left.”

Lyons served as a Republican member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 2011 to 2019. He said the disconnect between the public and these politicians reflects what he sees as the problems of the modern Democratic Party — and that he feels as though his party has a message that should appeal to many Democratic voters.

“I think it’s the radical nature of Beacon Hill that’s being exposed,” Lyons said of Democratic legislators’ refusal to enact voter ID. “We only put this thing out on Friday, but it’s getting support among blue-collar mainstream Democrats and Republicans. What we’re seeing is the Democratic Party has shifted far to the left and I don’t think it’s representative of a lot of the members.”

Lyons said he sees a possible opening for the GOP in a state long dominated by Democrats.

“I think it’s an opportunity for people to take a look at the Republican Party and try to decide whether our vision for Massachusetts and America is more consistent with theirs when we talk about freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, election integrity,” Lyons said. “It seems those issues resonate with not only Republicans but independents and Democrats.”

Supporters of voter ID say that it’s necessary to secure elections and prevent voter fraud. Opponents argue that it’s an unconstitutional restriction that disproportionately disenfranchises poor and non-white voters and amounts to voter suppression — and that voter fraud is too rare to affects the outcomes of elections. 

While people may argue about how often voter fraud occurs in elections, it does happen in Massachusetts. In late June, NewBostonPost found a confirmed case of voter fraud by mail in the 2020 presidential election in the town of Bellingham, Massachusetts. There was also a confirmed case of double voting in in the 2016 presidential election. John Fleming Jr. and his wife Grace Fleming voted in Hampton, New Hampshire via absentee ballots in addition to voting in person in Belchertown, Massachusetts on November 8, 2016.

There are 35 states with some form of voter ID laws. That includes many Republican-voting states, but also states that neighbor Massachusetts like Democratic-leaning Rhode Island and Connecticut, and battleground state New Hampshire.

There are several steps the MassGOP will need to complete to get a voter ID question on the November 2022 ballot, as Amendment Article 48 of the Massachusetts Constitution lays out.

The party must file an initiative petition signed by at least 10 registered voters and submit it to Attorney General Maura Healey’s office by the first Wednesday in August. Then, the Attorney General determines whether the petition is constitutional or not. If it is, the office certifies the petition and the petitioner can file with the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office.

Then, the petitioners must collect at least 80,239 authentic signatures from registered Massachusetts voters to get their initiative on the ballot. They can start collecting signatures by mid-September and have until 14 days before the first Wednesday in December (November 17, 2021 in this case) to file those signatures with local elections officials. Then, they must file the signatures certified by local election officials with the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office by the first Wednesday of December (which this year is December 1, 2021). There is one caveat, however:  no more than one-quarter of these certified signatures can come from any one county in the state.

If supporters of the voter ID referendum meet the threshold, the Massachusetts Legislature would formally receive the proposal in January 2022.

If the state Legislature doesn’t pass the measure before the first Wednesday in May 2022, then the process would continue. At that point, supporters must collect at least 13,374 additional authentic signatures from unique Massachusetts voters and file them with local election officials 14 days before the first Wednesday in July 2022. Then, they must file certified signatures with the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office by the first Wednesday in July 2022. The rule limiting signatures from any one county to one-quarter of the total also applies here.

If supporters can do all of that, then the measure will make the ballot in the next statewide general election — in this case, the November 2022 ballot.

Those interested in getting involved with the initiative can visit this form to sign up to volunteer.


New to NewBostonPost?  Conservative media is hard to find in Massachusetts.  But you’ve found it.  Now dip your toe in the water for two bucks — $2 for two months.  And join the real revolution.