Massachusetts Senate Passes Automatic Voter Registration (AVR)

Press Release

BOSTON – Local State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate to pass legislation meaning eligible voters will be automatically registered to vote when receiving services from the RMV, MassHealth, and other state agencies.

This means that the burden to register voters now falls upon the state, instead of individual citizens, and it will allow hundreds of thousands of eligible citizens who are currently not registered to have their say at the ballot box.

“In other states, AVR has proved effective in raising voter turnout, especially among individuals who are voting for the first time or are less-frequent voters,” said Barrett.  “The right to vote is fundamental for all citizens in a democracy and the process should be as simple as possible.  Passing this legislation represents a major victory for voting rights and social justice.”

The law also bolsters voter-data security. It updates the requirements for transmission of voter registration affidavits and requires the Secretary of State to promulgate regulations to ensure registration is done through electronic transmission, with data security protocols and integration with the online portals. This will help clean up active voter lists and ensure that they are clear and free of error.

In addition, the legislation increases penalties associated with voter fraud. It orders that whoever knowingly provides false information in connection with automatic voter registration shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years or both.

Having passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the legislation has been sent to the Governor for his approval.