On June 22, Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law an election reform bill that makes many pandemic-related election changes permanent, expanding some voting opportunities in time for the next statewide election in September.

The new law changes the voter registration deadline from 20 days before an election to 10 days. The final bill (S. 2924) did not include same-day voter registration, a sticking point between the House and Senate in earlier versions of the bills.

The law allows mail-in ballots for presidential, state and municipal elections, while allowing municipalities to opt out of mail-in voting for elections that are not held on the same day as a state or federal election. Municipalities could, however, allow in-person early voting for those elections if they choose.

While these provisions take effect 30 days after the bill is signed into law — in time for the state’s Sept. 6 primary election — the law includes some provisions that would not go into effect until January 2023. These include automatic voter registration, and expanded voting access procedures for incarcerated individuals.

The Senate passed an election reform bill, known as the VOTES Act, in October 2021, and the House passed its version of the VOTES Act in January. A House-Senate conference committee resolved differences between the two bills, and a compromise bill was approved in each branch in mid-June.

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