Voting rights coalition lauds rollout of online registration
Secretary of State William Galvin this week announced the official launch of online voter registration, implementing a long-awaited reform that will allow Massachusetts citizens with signatures on file with the Registry of Motor Vehicles to fill out paperless voter registration applications over the Internet.
The Election Modernization Coalition — comprising Common Cause Massachusetts, MassVOTE, the ACLU of Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, the MIRA Coalition, Progressive Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Voter Table — celebrated the launch, and applauded the new technology which they predict will engage new voters.
“We are extremely pleased that Massachusetts will be joining 20 states that have already implemented online voter registration,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “It’s a proven reform that will bring Massachusetts into the 21st Century and improve voter registration accuracy while increasing opportunities to register to vote.”
Before today, state residents were required to fill out a voter application, sign it in paper form and then mail or deliver it to an elections official. Now applications can be submitted online and verified by matching information, including signature, already contained in the Registry of Motor Vehicles database. Residents without state IDs or driver’s licenses can print out a form and send it in.
“It’s thrilling that, as of today, voter registration will be available in Massachusetts online,” said Janet Domenitz of MASSPIRG. “In a day and age when so many transactions, tiny and huge, take place via the internet, we look forward to this tool giving more people, and especially young people, greater access to voting.”
Advocates noted that in Arizona, after online voter registration was implemented, registration increased by nearly 10 percent. Maricopa County in Arizona even saved $1.4 million after implementing online voter registration in 2008. In that county, processing a paper registration form cost 83 cents, while an online application cost three cents. Massachusetts, like most other states, will likely see cost savings.
“This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” said Sara Brady, Policy Director at MassVOTE. “We’re very pleased that in 2015 our Commonwealth took another step towards ensuring accessible elections for all with the launch of the new online voter registration system today.”
“Massachusetts is the cradle of liberty and the tech hub of the universe, so online voting is a marriage of two of the commonwealth’s greatest strengths. In other words, it’s a no-brainer,” said Gavi Wolfe of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “The state should always be innovating and seeking out new ways to harness technology in the service of fundamental freedoms like voting.”
The launch of online voter registration is one of the first steps in implementing the Comprehensive Election Modernization Act, passed in 2014 by the Massachusetts legislature and championed by the Election Modernization Coalition. The law established online voter registration, early voting, pre-registration, audits of election equipment and more.
“Our coalition fought hard for this reform, which was signed into law in June 2014, said Anne Borg, Co-President of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. “We applaud Secretary William Galvin’s office for their diligence and commitment to launching online voter registration early and fully and look forward to working with them to implement the remaining reforms, especially early voting.”