House Passes Automatic Voter Registration

Representative Mike Connolly joined his Cambridge and Somerville colleagues in the House to pass H.4320An Act automatically registering eligible voters and enhancing safeguards against fraud. This legislation creates an efficient and streamlined automatic voter registration (AVR) system, while also protecting the privacy of individuals.

This legislation directs the Secretary of State to work with the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) and MassHealth to automatically enroll eligible individuals to the Commonwealth’s voter rolls. The Secretary of State will adopt regulations governing the AVR system, including provisions requiring electronic transmission, data security protocols, and integration with online portals.

Representative Connolly co-sponsored the AVR bill in the House this session, and last year, he joined with the late Rep. Peter Kocot, Sen. Cynthia Creem, and other AVR advocates to testify in support of the bill.

"I am proud to vote in support of automatic voter registration and proud to have worked to advance this bill during my first term in office because our democracy is made stronger when we increase the number of people who are registered to vote," Representative Connolly said. "I want to thank Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Mahoney, and all of the advocates who raised their voices in support of AVR, and I especially want to acknowledge the efforts of our late colleague, Rep. Peter Kocot, who filed this AVR legislation last year."

"I am proud to see Massachusetts continue to lead the way in voting rights to ensure that everyone who is a resident has the ability to participate in our democracy,” said Representative John J. Mahoney, Chair of the Joint Committee on Election Laws. "The House, under Speaker DeLeo’s leadership, has taken decisive action to reform and improve our elections systems, and this legislation demonstrates our commitment to further progress."

Under this legislation, registration agencies will transmit electronic records of the legal name, age, residence, citizenship information, and electronic signature of each qualified person to the board of registrars of the municipality where the person lives. The board of registrars will then send a notice to the individual informing them that they have been registered to vote and offer the opportunity to choose a party affiliation or decline to be registered. If the individual does not decline within 21 days, their name will automatically be added to the voter lists.

The name and address of program participants will remain confidential and the Secretary of State will establish security measures to protect voter information.

The bill also requires Massachusetts to join the Electronic Registration Information Center, a non-profit that assists member states with improving voter roll accuracy and increasing access to voter registration.

Under this legislation, automatic voter registration would begin on January 1, 2020.

The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.

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