May 31
State Representative Scibak joined his colleagues in the Legislature yesterday afternoon in passing a bill that reforms the state’s current laws as they relate to elections. “I congratulate Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Election Laws, for his work in crafting this successful reform,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “This legislation will increase transparency in the election system and encourage young people to get engaged in their community government by offering them the opportunity to pre-register to vote.” “The bill the House passed is an example of common sense reforms that will keep our Commonwealth as one of the leaders in demonstrating a forward-thinking electoral process,” said Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Chair of the Joint Committee on Election Laws.   “We are delighted that the House has approved this common sense update of our election administration laws, the most significant reform in the area in decades,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director, Common Cause Massachusetts. “It will increase voter participation, particularly among young people, and help ensure that everyone's vote is counted accurately. With this reform, our generally well-run elections will be even better.” This legislation aims to improve accessibility and transparency in the state’s election system by promoting civic awareness, streamlining the process by which citizens may register to vote, and calling for election audits in certain circumstances. When teens turn 16 years old, they will then have the opportunity to pre-register to vote, thus simplifying the registration process for new, young voters by already having their name in the central voter registry file. Furthermore, voter registration forms will be made available for download from the web so that a registrant may fill out the form, print it, sign it, and mail it or deliver it to their town clerk with ease. Under this legislation, municipal election officials will be required to attend annual training given by the Secretary of State regarding applicable state and federal election laws. Additionally, this legislation calls for an election audit after certain biennial elections including all general elections where a Governor, a Senator or a Representative in Congress is elected. The number of precincts selected to be audited in the drawing must be equal to 3% of all precincts in the state. The precincts to be audited will be chosen by random drawing by the Secretary of State within 48 hours after polls close and the board of registrars in each city or town will conduct the audit. Any costs incurred to implement election audits shall be paid by the state using funds available to Massachusetts under the federal Help America Vote Act.