Expanded Mail-in Voting Provision in Massachusetts Expires

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Massachusetts state government allowed an expanded mail-in voting provision to expire last week, changing the state’s mail voting rules just weeks before summer and fall elections begin. During the pandemic, the Massachusetts Democratic Legislature and Republican Governor Charlie Baker had passed new mail-in voting rules that allowed any voter to cast a mail ballot without an excuse. As of last Thursday, the state returned to its previous requirement that voters must have a valid reason why they cannot make it to the polls in order to cast a ballot by mail. 

Town clerks and election officials across the state have been urging the legislature to enact mail-in voting expansions permanently, although it is unlikely such a plan will pass before the state’s summer elections. The House and Senate are working on separate bills, but have not agreed to which pandemic-era provisions to extend for the future. Secretary of State William Galvin (D) urged the Legislature to focus on passing a mail-in voting expansion as soon as possible, warning that the summer elections as well as the September Boston mayoral primary are fast approaching. “It’s very important that these voters [in upcoming elections] have the same rights as people who voted earlier this year,” he said.