As a constituent, I urge you to safeguard our elections this fall by supporting H. 4737, a bill that would protect the right of every eligible voter in the Commonwealth to cast their ballot safely, regardless of the ongoing impact of COVID-19. Nobody should be forced to choose between personal or public health and the right to vote.
H. 4737 would (1) enable widespread absentee voting, (2) preserve in-person voting while protecting voters and poll workers, and (3) expand early voting to ensure adequate physical distancing. The bill was filed in the House by Representatives John Lawn and Michael Moran and sponsored in the Senate by Eric Lesser and Adam Hinds.
Expanded access to mail-in voting is an essential part of protecting our democracy and people’s well-being during this public health crisis. Secretary of State William Galvin has already said that all voters should be entitled to vote absentee, if they choose, as a precaution against COVID-19 infection; H. 4737 would affirm that right. The bill would also make the promise of widespread absentee balloting a reality by requiring the Secretary to mail every registered voter a ballot for the general election. Without centralized distribution of ballots in November, elections officials in our cities and towns will be overwhelmed and the system could easily break down into chaos.
Even as we expand access to mail-in voting to address the COVID-19 crisis, we can’t rely solely on absentee ballots. The Commonwealth must preserve in-person voting—with appropriate safety precautions—in part to account for obstacles faced disproportionately by communities of color, people living with disabilities, and the elderly. Some voters, for example, live where mail delivery is not reliable or have temporarily relocated to a place in order to self-quarantine and therefore may not receive mail in a timely way. Data shows that these groups have been hardest hit by the public health crisis. We cannot make matters worse and allow these voters to be disenfranchised. To promote public health and enable adequate physical distancing at the polls, H. 4737 would expand absentee voting in 2020 for 2 weeks ahead of the primary and 3 weeks ahead of the general election.
Please support H. 4737 to safeguard our fall elections, and please urge your colleagues to act swiftly. Thank you for your leadership during this challenging time.