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Coalition Urges MA Towns & Cities to 'Go The Extra Mile' on Early Voting

A coalition is urging cities and towns across the Bay State to take a robust approach to setting up the state's first ever early voting days. (LWV MA)
A coalition is urging cities and towns across the Bay State to take a robust approach to setting up the state's first ever early voting days. (LWV MA)
August 8, 2016

BOSTON -- As the Bay State prepares for its first election with early voting in November, a coalition urged municipalities to go the extra mile to prepare.

According to Meryl Kessler, executive director with the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, the new law is pretty bare bones: it only directs municipalities to offer early voting 11 days before the election during regular business hours. The coalition plans to award gold and silver medals to towns and cities based on how many voting sites they set up and how much evening and weekend voting is available.

"To win a gold medal," Kessler said, "a municipality has to have at least one early voting site for every 35,000 people, have evening hours at least two times per week during early voting, and have six or more hours of weekend time available during early voting."

The coalition, which includes Common Cause, MASSPIRG and the League of Women Voters, pushed for the 2014 Election Modernization Law that established early voting and other reforms in the state.

Kessler said the coalition conducted a telephone survey of all 351 of the state's towns and cities, and found that planning for early voting is, in many cases, still a work in progress.

"40 percent of the state's municipalities are in the final planning stages for early voting," Kessler said. "35 percent have started planning, and 13 percent had no plans as of July 20."

Early voting is now the law of the land in the majority of states, and Kessler said the coalition looked at best practices in states that already had early voting to come up with the recommendations.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA