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Should Massachusetts require voters to present a government-issued photo ID in order to vote by mail or in person?

Read two views and vote in our online poll below.



Caroline Colarusso, former Stoneham city councilor, MA 4 Voter ID

Caroline Colarusso

The right to vote is conferred on persons who meet certain requirements. Persons need to reach a specific age. They need to reside in the municipality in which they vote. They need to be US citizens.

A person who meets these minimal requirements is eligible to vote.

No person who hasn’t met the requirements can steal the identity of the eligible person and illegally vote in his or her name. That’s fraud.

Requiring a person to produce a photo ID to obtain a ballot is a commonsense way to ensure that only eligible people — those properly listed on the official voter rolls — actually cast a vote.


The expansion of voting in Massachusetts to include universal mail-in voting creates more opportunity for fraud. It’s difficult to ensure that the person receiving and executing a mail-in ballot is the actual eligible voter to whom the ballot was sent. Signature matching doesn’t work.

Requiring that the person receiving and executing a mail-in ballot include a copy of their photo ID with their ballot is one way to ensure that the person casting the vote is the eligible person shown on the ID.

Any suggestion that having prospective voters show a photo ID creates a “burden” is nonsense.

Having a photo ID is necessary to carry out many daily activities. It’s needed to buy certain products, do business with banks, enter certain buildings, and get on board some types of transportation.

Claiming that large segments of our population lack an ID that’s needed to live their lives is an outrageous generalization that defies reality.

Any argument that a person who can’t afford a photo ID would be prevented from voting is baseless given the wording of the initiative petitions that have been filed with the Massachusetts attorney general’s office.


The pending initiative petitions would ask voters statewide if they want to change the law to require a voter to show a photo ID, or if the person still lacks one, sign an affidavit swearing to their identity, residence, and citizenship. This presents no burden for the honest voter while increasing election integrity.

Now is the time to change the law.

We’re hopeful that the attorney general will approve these petitions so the voters of Massachusetts will have the opportunity to weigh in.


Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, executive director of MassVOTE

Cheryl Clyburn Crawford

Massachusetts must continue to unequivocally reject proposals to implement voter ID laws.

Supporters incorrectly claim that mandating IDs for voters will make our elections more secure and eliminate fraud. Yet the policy is in search of a problem, with study after study showing that election fraud is essentially nonexistent.

Instead, voter ID laws are infamous for unjustly raising barriers to the ballot box for non-white voters. Although approximately 5 percent of white voting-age citizens do not possess a photo ID, twice as many Latino citizens lack one. The number is even higher among Black citizens. Even if states claim to offer so-called “free” voter IDs, those IDs are rarely ever free; voters must still pay for essential documents like a birth certificate, as well as travel expenses to obtain an ID.

Ultimately, these types of impediments make it dramatically more difficult for non-white citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Case in point: Researchers from the University of California San Diego found that voter ID laws can cause turnout among Latino voters to drop by as much as 10 percent.


As a result, voter ID laws prove eerily similar to past American policies — such as poll taxes and literacy tests — sharing the same, sinister goal of making it harder for non-white voters to cast ballots.

Voter ID initiatives have been introduced in the Commonwealth before, and undoubtedly will be again moving forward. Fortunately, the idea has failed to gain traction because we know that the people of Massachusetts see through this harmful, ineffective policy. This year — and in the years ahead — the state must continue to reject any voter ID proposal that is put before us.

Instead, lawmakers, advocates, and community leaders must work to increase the vibrancy of our democracy by helping all voters — especially non-white voters — make their voices heard.

We must pass same-day registration and other policies proven to increase voter turnout in BIPOC communities. We must educate voters each election cycle so they understand the candidates and issues on the ballot, especially in majority-BIPOC cities like Boston, Worcester, and Springfield that see low turnout. We must make our democracy more accessible, not less.

As told to Globe correspondent Linda Greenstein. To suggest a topic, please contact