Massachusetts House Speaker Opposes Same-Day Voter Registration

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By Chris Lisinski
State House News Service

Massachusetts House Speaker Ronald Mariano hinted Monday that he remains opposed to allowing prospective voters to register and cast a ballot in a single trip to the polls, a stance that could keep his chamber at odds with the Senate over elections reform legislation.

Mariano would not say if the bill the House plans to debate on Thursday, January 27 will feature authorization for same-day voter registration, telling reporters that “we’ll see what comes out” when the House Ways and Means Committee releases its rewrite of Senate-approved legislation (S.2554).

Asked if he personally supports the policy shift, Mariano said that he voted against the idea when the House rejected a same-day voter registration amendment to a COVID-19 relief bill last year.

“We’ll listen to the debate and see if someone changes my mind,” Mariano said, stopping short of outlining a rationale for opposing the measure, which could create challenges for incumbents with challengers in low-turnout primaries.

Supporters of the voter registration reform are amping up the pressure on House lawmakers to include it in the legislation up for debate this week, which is expected to make no-excuse voting by mail a permanent option in Massachusetts after it proved popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state Senate in October approved legislation known as the VOTES Act that permanently allows mail-in voting and expanded early voting, imposes new requirements on correction officials to increase ballot access for eligible incarcerated individuals, and authorizes unregistered voters to join the rolls and cast a ballot on election day or an early voting day.

Governor Charlie Baker has backed pandemic-era voting options and praised mail-in voting, but opposes the voter registration reform push, casting the specter of a possible veto. Supporters would need to line up votes from two-thirds of members in both chambers to pass the provision over Baker’s objection.


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