Massachusetts Senate Passes Automatic Voter Registration

BOSTON – Today, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in voting to pass H.4671, An Act automatically registering eligible voters and enhancing safeguards against fraud. The legislation creates a framework in which eligible voters will be automatically registered to vote when receiving services from the Registry of Motor vehicles, MassHealth, and other participating state agencies. The framework will be overseen and implemented by the Secretary of State.

“Nearly 700,000 residents are eligible to vote in Massachusetts, yet persistent barriers and confusion about the registration process make it more difficult for people to register to vote,” said Senator Friedman. “We should be making it easier for people to exercise their right to vote, not harder. This bill will ensure that eligible voters have fair and equal access to our state election process, encourage greater participation in the political process, increase voter turnout and ultimately strengthen our democracy.”

The legislation 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.

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.

The final bill, H.4834, was signed into law on August 9, 2018.