House Passes COVID-19 Elections Bill
BOSTON- On June 4, 2020, Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) joined her colleagues in the legislature to pass legislation to expand voting options in the Commonwealth this Fall, in response to COVID-19. The bill, H.4768 An act relative to voting options in response to COVID-19, takes the necessary precautions to ensure that every Massachusetts resident can exercise their right to vote in the state primary and November general election, while prioritizing public health and safety.
“The right to vote is one of our core democratic foundations,” said Representative Meschino. “The House established critical steps to ensure that no resident is disenfranchised by the pandemic. ”
The legislation will require the secretary of state to mail all registered voters an application to request a ballot to vote early by mail in the state primary and November general elections this Fall. Applications with instructions will be mailed by July 15, 2020 for the September primary. The bill also revises the rules for absentee voting to include any person taking COVID-19-related precautions.
In addition, the legislation expands in-person early voting for the state primary and the November general election, maintains the ability to vote in-person on election day, and requires the implementation of public health safeguards to maintain proper social distancing and sanitization at polling locations.
An Act relative to voting options in response to COVID-19 also provides for early voting by mail for any city or town election held at the same time as the primary or general election this year.
Amendments were passed during Thursday’s debate to shorten this year’s voter registration deadline from 20 days to 10 days prior to the election, to provide accommodations for vote-by-mail for persons with disabilities, to evaluate impacts on equity when changing a polling location, and to allow ballots postmarked by election day and received by 5:00 PM on November 6, 2020, to be counted in the general election.
Now the legislation goes to the Senate for consideration.
State Representative Joan Meschino represents the communities of Hingham, Hull, Cohasset, and North Scituate. Rep. Meschino and her Legislative Aide can be reached at the State House at 617-722-2320 or by email at Joan.Meschino@MAHouse.gov. To learn more about Rep. Meschino’s constituent services and legislative work, please visit www.JoanMeschino.com.