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Same Day Registration – Letter

Dear elected officials,

Amidst a global pandemic, voters prepared to make their voices heard on November 3rd with great determination. The Commonwealth increased voter accessibility by allowing vote by mail for any reason, which was successful and proved that Massachusetts’ infrastructure is capable of handling common sense reforms to its election laws. Same Day Registration is one such reform. Currently, eligible voters must register at least 20 days prior to an election in order to participate. We urge you to support legislation that would allow eligible voters in the Commonwealth to register to vote on the same day they cast their ballot--either through early voting or on Election Day.

Currently, twenty-one states plus the District of Columbia allow Same Day Registration in some form. In those states, voter turnout has increased considerably upon enactment. Allowing Same Day Registration will ensure increased access to voters who might otherwise not be able to participate in this democratic process, owing to work conflicts, health concerns, and other barriers. In sum, Same Day Registration would allow more Massachusetts voters to make their voices heard, which is crucial for a healthy and functioning democracy.

Requiring registration before Election Day discourages so-called “lower propensity” voters, or those who aren’t as likely to vote. Without Same Day Registration, these voters might miss the opportunity to vote simply because they are not aware of the registration deadline. This has the effect of disenfranchising those who engage with the election cycle closer to Election Day, when interest in politics is at its highest. Enacting Same Day Registration allows more people the opportunity to vote, no matter when they engage with the political process.

Those who oppose the adoption of Same Day Registration argue that by allowing registration to occur at any time up through and including election day, there would be insurmountable financial and administrative costs. Demos, a non-partisan public policy organization, found in a 2009 survey ofstates that had already implemented Election Day voter registration that costs were “minimal”, and predominantly a reallocation of existing resources to compensate for registration at polling places. On the subject of administrative costs, the same study also found that implementation of Election Day voter registration, particularly on election day, drastically reduces the need for provisional ballots and saves the time and expense of processing ballots.

Opponents of Same Day Registration also argue that it would increase voting fraud. The most recent electoral cycle showed us that while many may have fears about fraud, the incidences of fraud are quite low. Furthermore, the Same Day registration requirements would parallel those for non-Same Day Registration.  Voters registering on election day would still be required to provide proof of identity and proof of residence, making the process of registration no different from that of the current process, with the exception of the deadline.

The benefits of expanded voter registration far outweigh the potential administrative and financial costs. We strongly encourage you to take action immediately to bring Massachusetts into a growing group of states leading the charge around democracy reform.

Signed,

The Good Governance Project

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