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Early voting proposed for Mass. presidential primary

Secretary of State William Galvin will appeal to Legislature.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/File/Globe Staff

Secretary of State William Galvin says he will ask the Legislature to expand early voting to include the 2020 presidential primary so Massachusetts voters can cast ballots as soon as five days before the March 3, 2020, contest.

If the Legislature approves, voters may have a larger role in the early presidential primary calendar, something that could help US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has said she would take a “hard look” at a White House run.

Under Democratic National Committee rules, only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina are allowed to hold elections before March. If Massachusetts voters begin casting ballots five days early, technically they jump ahead South Carolina on the primary calendar in terms of casting — but not counting — ballots.


According to Galvin, however, the point of the proposal is simply to make voting more convenient.

“Anything more than five days is risky, because so much happens during that period, especially with candidates dropping out,” Galvin said.

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The state in 2016 initiated early voting for November statewide contests and continued the practice in 2018, when voters could cast ballots on the 10 weekdays prior to Election Day.

“We have had two rounds of successful early voting, and I hope the Legislature will consider this,” Galvin said.

Senate president Karen Spilka, in a statement from her office, said she looks forward “to discussing this proposal with the Secretary of State in more detail.”

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said simply, “the House will review the proposal.”

Galvin said he is proposing early voting only in the presidential primary, and not in the primary for state offices, which are likely to be held in September 2020. Earlier this year, a proposal to have a five-day early-voting window for all state primaries passed the state Senate but was rejected by the House.


New England will already have an outsized voice during the presidential primary season, Galvin said. New Hampshire is likely to hold the first presidential primary. Massachusetts and Vermont will hold presidential primaries on the first Tuesday in March, with Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine potentially having their primaries a few weeks later.

“New England will be a very prominent place for any Democrat running for president,” Galvin predicted.

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics: http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp.