Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
The Honorable Michael J. Moran
The Honorable Barry R. Finegold
The Honorable Daniel J. Ryan
The Honorable Cynthia Stone Creem
The Honorable Shawn Dooley
The Honorable Ryan C. Fattman
Dear Leader Moran, Senator Finegold, and Distinguished Members of the VOTES Act Conference Committee,
On behalf of cities and towns across the Commonwealth, we are writing to share comments on the important joint effort to promote healthy and safe elections in the Commonwealth. As you work to reconcile the House and Senate versions of An Act fostering voter opportunities, trust, equity and security (H. 4367 and S. 2554), we urge you to support and codify successful provisions to facilitate the conduct of elections without imposing unfunded mandates or requirements on cities and towns in Massachusetts.
No-Excuse Vote by Mail
Despite the blunt and disruptive nature of the pandemic, municipal clerks and election officials in the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns were still responsible for administering federal, state and local elections in the most accessible and efficient way possible over the past two years. This success was due to our dedicated local officials, and the pandemic-related flexibilities that the Legislature enacted during the public health crisis. The new option to vote by mail was an essential tool for local officials, which was also overwhelmingly popular for voters. We thank you and your colleagues in the Legislature for acting immediately on that issue. This is why we support the provisions in H. 4367 and S. 2554 that would make no-excuse voting by mail a permanent change to encourage and allow all citizens to exercise their right to vote from home. The MMA does prefer the language included in S. 2554, which would allow this change for all elections, including the option to do so at the local level. Additionally, we respectfully request that under this scenario, voters be required to request a vote by mail ballot through an online portal or traditional written request, rather than any other administrative burden on local officials.
Similarly, we greatly appreciate the work of the House and Senate to create permanent and dependable opportunities for in-person early voting for state and federal elections. Additionally, we strongly support the provisions in both bills that would enable a local option for early voting for local elections as well. The MMA does prefer the language included in H. 4367 related to the ranges of early voting prior to state and federal elections, which would best fit the needs of communities of various sizes across Massachusetts.
Full Cost Reimbursement to Cities and Towns
Finally, the MMA respectfully requests a guarantee of full funding for all new election responsibilities and training requirements that may be imposed on communities from this final package. Despite the rosy state revenue picture, cities and towns are still facing major local budget uncertainties, especially with the restrictions under Proposition 2½ and the need to prepare for ongoing public health and safety expenditures. This is not the time to mandate new responsibilities and costs without full state funding or assistance. Unfunded election mandates would further pressure already stressed cities and towns, and create uneven and inequitable burdens throughout the state.
We greatly appreciate your continued support for the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns. The MMA supports this important legislation to ensure healthy and safe elections through processes that both preserve the integrity of elections and retain voter confidence and participation. We ask you to support these important provisions while avoiding unfunded mandates or requirements on municipalities across Massachusetts.
Thank you for your consideration and attention to this important issue for the Commonwealth and its cities, towns, and voters. If you have any questions regarding our comments or require additional information, please do not hesitate to have your office contact MMA Legislative Director Dave Koffman at 617-426-7272, ext. 122, or email@example.com at any time.
Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO
The Honorable Ronald J. Mariano, Speaker of the House
The Honorable Karen E. Spilka, Senate President