Secretary of State William F. Galvin deserves some credit for his proposal for Election Day registration, which would allow Massachusetts to join the 15 other states and the District of Columbia that allow voters to register when they go to vote (“Same-day voter registration plan offered,” Metro, Jan. 26). Under this proposal, eligible voters would no longer be at the mercy of our arbitrary, 20-day voter registration deadline.
MassVOTE is a lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the registration deadline. Last year, a Suffolk Superior Court judge ruled that the cutoff violates the state’s constitutional protections by disenfranchising thousands of Massachusetts voters.
The policy proposed by Galvin, while in the right spirit, is already out-of-date, since it does not allow for same-day registration during early voting. Four of the five states with an Election Day-only policy enacted it decades ago, when early voting, online registration, and a central state voter file did not exist. More recent adopters, such as Colorado, Illinois, and Montana, additionally allow voters to register at designated early-voting sites. This is especially important for the million Bay State residents who vote early.
The secretary and Beacon Hill must consider an early-voting same-day registration law that truly moves us forward. When it comes to modernizing Massachusetts’ long-outdated election laws, we can no longer afford to crawl; we need to run.