July 22, 2008
According to the Boston Phoenix, voter turnout in Massachusetts is "depressingly low," ranking only 21st in the nation. But does this mean residents are apathetic or are other issues at play?
Local community groups, including MassVOTE, a non-partisan voting rights organization, believe that by making it easier and more convenient to register voters at the polls, Massachusetts voting numbers could go up by as many as 225,000 people. Same-day voter registration would increase turnout during what many are calling the most important and hotly debated election in recent memory.
Proposed legislation on same-day registration was scheduled for a vote last Thursday, but a small number of senators used parliamentary procedures to stall the bill. Now the Senate is scheduled to debate and vote on it this week. The legislation would allow new voters and those who have changed addresses to register to vote on Election Day and to have the new system in place in time for the fall presidential election. It would require same-day registrants to show a government-issued photo identification and proof of address such as a bank statement or utility bill at the proper voting location. They would also have to sign a statement under penalty of perjury that they are a U.S. citizen eligible to vote.
Wisconsin, Maine, and Minnesota have had same-day registration for 30 or more years. New Hampshire, Idaho, and Wyoming have had it in place since 1993. Now Massachusetts may be the next to join these other states in ensuring that every citizen’s voice is heard.