The Honorable Ronald Mariano, Speaker of the House
The Honorable Karen Spilka, Senate President
State House, Boston
(Delivered Electronically)

Dear Speaker Mariano and President Spilka,

On behalf of communities in every corner of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is writing to request the swiftest possible enactment of H.D. 240 and S.D. 156, An Act Further Providing for Early Voting by Mail.

The urgent issue at stake is the pressing matter of conducting safe elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, when the Commonwealth was confronted with this public health crisis, the Legislature acted immediately, allowing cities and towns to delay elections and town meetings, and authorizing no-excuse absentee ballots for municipal elections — a powerful method of allowing an effective mail-in voting option for residents. You continued the allowable use of no-excuse absentee ballots up to March 31, 2021, via Section 99 of the fiscal year 2021 budget bill (Chapter 227 of the Acts of 2020). H.D. 240 and S.D. 156 would extend this option to June 30, 2021.

Mail-in voting is a safe and effective way to reduce the risk of exposure to and transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The extension of mail-in voting to March 31 is appreciated, yet the reality is that only a small number of municipal elections will take place before that date. Well over 250 towns have scheduled their elections to take place between April 1 and June 30, and cannot move their elections ahead to March. With the pandemic still raging, and with vaccine deployment for the general population still months away, it is vital that voters be provided a workable mail-in option, and that municipal employees and poll workers be protected by reducing the volume of voters who appear in person.

In order to properly prepare for these elections, municipalities and their clerks need at least five weeks of lead time, which is why we are asking for movement on this bill within the next few days to allow enough time for municipalities to prepare and act. We know the health, safety and welfare of municipal employees and election volunteers is of the highest importance to you and your colleagues in the Legislature. This bill would allow citizens to safely vote from their homes and decrease the demand and traffic at local polling places, protecting the health of those administering the election.

Thank you for your attention to this very important local government matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to have your office contact me or MMA Senior Legislative Analyst Brittney Franklin at at any time.

Thank you very much.


Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO