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-in voting rules just weeks before summer and fall elections begin. During the pandemic, the Massachusetts Democratic Legislature and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker passed new mail-in voting rules that allowed any voter to cast a mail-in 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 state House and Senate are working on separate bills, but have not agreed to which pandemic-era provisions to extend for the future. Massachusetts 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.