Massachusetts governor signs bill allowing all voters to vote by mail
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill on Monday allowing all registered voters in the Bay State to vote by mail in the primary and general elections this fall if they choose, his office confirmed to CNN.
The new law means Massachusetts joins other states — including Michigan, Nevada, California, New Hampshire and Wisconsin — in moving to make it easier for more people to vote by mail as coronavirus infection numbers climb and states are forced to look ahead to the November election.
The bill requires that an application to vote by mail be sent to everyone in the state who was registered to vote prior to July 1. It also expands early voting, adding additional days in order to limit crowds at the polls for those who still wish to vote in person.
Additionally, the state has made applications to vote by mail available via download.
In 2016 and 2018, about 25% of US voters cast ballots by mail, which includes the handful of states that conduct elections entirely by mail and traditional absentee ballots.
Before the Massachusetts bill was signed, people in the state were able to cast their ballots by mail only if absences, physical disabilities or religious beliefs prevented them from voting at their polling places. Now voters are able to send their ballots via envelope without needing excuses.
For some states, the expansion of voting by mail has been an uphill battle. In Texas, the Democratic Party’s efforts have been challenged up to the Supreme Court, which has denied a request from the party to expedite the case, making it highly unlikely that the issue will be decided in time for the November election.
President Donald Trump has lashed out at officials in two swing states, Michigan and Nevada, over their moves to make it easier for more people to cast ballots by mail ahead of the November election, highlighting his growing anger over mail-in voting changes that he contends will encourage fraud and hurt his chances of reelection.
The President’s harsh and often baseless criticism of vote-by-mail is significantly ratcheting up as more and more states loosen restrictions on the practice either proactively or on court orders.