Testimony on An Act relative to election day registration
Updated: Sep 27, 2019
Dear Chairs Finegold and Lawn Jr.,
Thank you for allowing me to make the case for House Bill 685, An Act relative to election day registration. The United States prides itself on being a free, democratic country, but we are not perfect. Many voting-age adults in Massachusetts are disenfranchised every election because they have not registered in time. It is time to follow the example set by over 20 other states (including states similar to Massachusetts in population) and enact election day registration to bring Massachusetts closer to a true democracy.
The first election day registration laws were passed in 1973 and they have proven successful in increasing voter turnout. Studies show that it increases turnout by an average of 5%. States with election day registration also have higher turnout rates compared to states that do not have election day registration. Election day registration especially helps young, low-income, and minority voters who often move and are unable to vote because they did not update their registration.
Concerns about election day registration are unfounded. As rare as voter fraud already is, this bill would not increase voter fraud because the bill requires proof of residency, otherwise the ballot is provisional. Contrary to popular belief, election day registration would not disproportionately benefit one party over another.
The current registration deadline 20 days before Election Day is arbitrary. This was proven in 2016 when people who registered to vote on the day of the deadline were allowed to vote as little as 5 days later during the early voting period. There may be costs to implement election day registration in Massachusetts, but this should not be a matter dictated by finances. We should do everything in our power to allow all of our citizens to express their voice through voting.
Thank you for allowing me to make the case for this bill to improve our democracy. I respectfully request that the committee reports this bill out favorably.
6th MIDDLESEX DISTRICT