Free Speech For People submitted written testimony in support of a new bill in the Massachusetts State House to improve election safety, security and accessibility in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Representative Tami Gouveia of the 14th Middlesex District introduced the legislation, which Free Speech For People helped develop. 

The bill, titled “An Act to Establish Safe, Accessible, and Fair Elections,” would expand early voting, establish an online voter registration portal for Massachusetts voters, and require the Secretary of the Commonwealth to develop guidance (with public input) to develop  guidelines to distribute to city and town clerks on safe in-person voting. This is important because many voters require or prefer an opportunity to vote in person. The guidelines must include topics such as providing poll workers with personal protective equipment (PPE), enlarging polling locations to facilitate social distancing protocols, and the implementation of curbside voting to accommodate voters with physical or health limitations. These principles accord with some of the recommendations in Free Speech For People’s April 2020 report on Safe Voting During the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

As Representative Gouveia has noted, the COVID-19 pandemic has utterly transformed our society and our ability to perform all aspects of daily living, from the most mundane, non-essential tasks to the most sacred, fundamental component of our democracy – the ability to exercise our right to vote.  This important legislation will help make Massachusetts elections safer in the pandemic. 

Read the bill.

Read our testimony.

Photo: Daderot / CC0