We Need to Strengthen Democracy Here in MA

One year ago today (1-6-21), right-wing extremists, aided by our ex-president, assaulted the Capitol building in an attempt to overturn the election results and subvert our democracy.

It's a timely day to reflect on democracy and how it needs strengthening at all levels. And, yes, that means here in MA, too.

The central principle of democracy is that every person's voice matters. And far too often, communities of color and working-class communities face unnecessary, arbitrary, and sometimes insurmountable barriers to making their voice heard. And we are all worse off because of it.

In Massachusetts, we haven't been a leader on voting rights. The COVID elections package from 2020 finally brought us up to where many other states have been for years, with expanded options to vote by mail and to vote early. But the Legislature let that expire.

Our neighbors in Maine and New Hampshire have had Same Day Registration for decades, but Massachusetts still has an arbitrary voter registration cutoff, rooted in anti-immigrant sentiment from a century ago.

And despite the fact that many individuals incarcerated in prisons and jails maintain the right to vote, that right often doesn't exist in practice due to misinformation and indifference from correctional officers.

We can do better. And we need to do better.

The MA Senate played its part, passing the VOTES Act in October. The VOTES Act not only makes vote-by-mail and expanded early voting permanent but also goes further by eliminating our arbitrary, exclusionary voter registration cutoff and strengthening protections for jail-based voting.

Tell your state rep it's time to pass the VOTES Act now.

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