House to debate the VOTES Act this afternoon

JANUARY 27, 2022

In the wake of last week's disappointing outcome in the United States Senate regarding the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, I am pleased to report that we in the Massachusetts House of Representatives will be debating and voting on key voting rights legislation of our own this afternoon.

H.4359, An Act fostering Voter Opportunities, Trust, Equity, and Security, also known as the VOTES Act, is scheduled for debate starting around 1 pm this afternoon. To watch the debate online, please visit this page.

I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the original draft of the VOTES Act, which will make Vote By Mail and Early Voting permanent features of our democracy, along with several other enhancements to make voting easier and more accessible.

However, the latest draft of the bill to emerge from committee does not include provisions for Same Day Voter Registration (SDR), a vital provision that has been shown to boost voter turnout, especially among Black, brown, low-income, and immigrant communities. Especially given the transient nature of our Cambridge and Somerville district, with its preponderance of renters, SDR is a needed reform to help strengthen the democratic process.

That's why I am proud to be co-sponsoring three Same Day Voter Registration amendments to the current draft of the bill. Thank you to Reps. Sabadosa, Gentile, and Elugardo for filing amendments #5, #11, and #40 respectively. I am committed to voting in support of these amendments.

I am also proud to be co-sponsoring amendment #13 (filed by Rep. Miranda) to better facilitate voting for people who are incarcerated, along with other amendments to further strengthen our democracy.

Last session, on June 4, 2020, in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the House passed H.4768, An Act relative to voting options in response to COVID-19. During that debate, an amendment was filed by Rep. Gouveia to allow for Same Day Voter Registration. I was proud to co-sponsor that amendment and to vote in support of it — but unfortunately, the amendment was rejected on a roll call vote of 17 yeas and 139 nays. At the time, some opponents of the amendment pointed to the unprecedented emergency circumstances with the pandemic as the reason why they didn't think it was an advisable step forward at that time. With three SDR amendments on the docket today, I am hopeful there could be a more positive outcome.

In conclusion, I appreciate the efforts of House Leaders to bring this bill to the floor today, and I also want to thank the advocates at the Massachusetts Voter Table, the ACLU of Massachusetts, MassVote, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, Lawyers For Civil Rights Boston, and others for their support of the VOTES Act in general and their continued advocacy for Same Day Voter Registration in particular.

I invite you to tune in to today's debate, and as always, I am more than happy to answer any questions or concerns with this or any other matter.

Yours in service,

Rep. Mike Connolly