A group of more than 20 mayors of Massachusetts cities called Tuesday for state lawmakers to implement a Vote by Mail program to ensure voters can safely cast ballots in 2020 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In this time of pandemic, no one should be forced to choose between their health and their right to vote,” the mayors said in an April 21 letter to Senate President Karen E. Spilka and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
The mayors said constituents deserve the opportunity to exercise their right to vote without the risk of being exposed to “a deadly virus.”
As of Wednesday, 2,182 people died who had tested positive of the coronavirus in Massachusetts, with 42,944 total cases of the disease, the state’s Department of Public Health reported.
Vote by Mail has “become the gold standard for voter access and participation,” the mayors said. They pointed to programs in states such as Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii, as well as states that have launched such programs in response to COVID-19, including New York, New Hampshire, and Maryland.
They wrote that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, is uncertain when the current surge of the coronavirus will subside. They said experts are projecting a possible recurrence in the fall, just as voters head to the polls for the statewide September primary and the November general election.
In their letter to state lawmakers, the mayors said Massachusetts, with the leadership of the state Senate and House, must lead by “ensuring safe, healthy, widely available ballot access” by passing a Vote by Mail program.
“As Mayors serving 22 cities, we see Vote by Mail as the best chance our constituents and Commonwealth have to protect the integrity of our 2020 elections and the health of our voters,” they wrote.
The group of mayors who signed the letter were Ruthanne Fuller of Newton; Kim Driscoll of Salem; John J. Leahy of Lowell; Sumbul Siddiqui of Cambridge; Carlo DeMaria Jr. of Everett; Joseph M. Petty of Worcester; Thomas McGee of Lynn; Paul Coogan of Fall River; Daniel Rivera of Lawrence; Yvonne Spicer of Framingham; Jon Mitchell of New Bedford; Neil Perry of Methuen; Nicole LaChapelle of Easthampton; Paul Brodeur of Melrose; William Reichelt of West Springfield; David Narkewicz of Northampton; Donna Holaday of Newburyport; Roxann Wedegartner of Greenfield; Thomas Bernard of North Adams; Sefatia Romeo Theken of Gloucester; Kassandra Gove of Amesbury; and Linda Tyer of Pittsfield.
John Hilliard can be reached at email@example.com.