The state Legislature advanced a constitutional amendment Wednesday aimed at facilitating early voting and more widespread use of absentee voting, but Senate President Therese Murray said the lengthy process is just one option available to supporters.
“ I would like to see it come through as legislation so it could be done sooner. A lot of people are disenfranchised, particularly people who live in my communities who travel to work sometimes north of Boston, leave before the polls open, and get home when the polls are closed,” said Murray, whose district includes Plymouth, Falmouth, and Sandwich.
Lawmakers meeting in a brief constitutional convention advanced the amendment allowing registered voters to cast ballots at polling places during the 10 days leading up to an election. The amendment would also allow any voter to request an absentee ballot.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 32 states and the District of Columbia allow early voting. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia allow absentee votes for any reason.
The proposal was quickly advanced without debate before the convention recessed until March 12, 2014.
To take effect, constitutional amendments must be approved by two successive Legislatures and then by voters. The earliest such a plan could reach the ballot would be November 2016.
Massachusetts allows voters to cast absentee ballots if they will be absent from their community on Election Day, have a disability that prevents them from voting at the polls, or if they cannot vote at the polls due to religious beliefs.