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PNS Daily Newscast - September 30, 2020 


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Last night was filled with interruptions at the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

MA Election Laws Committee to Hear Voting Access Bills

The Commonwealth is considering three bills that expand access to voting in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. (Michael Jefferies/Creative Commons)
The Commonwealth is considering three bills that expand access to voting in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. (Michael Jefferies/Creative Commons)
May 14, 2020

BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Election Laws is having a hearing Thursday about three bills aimed at increasing voting access this fall.

The committee will hear testimony about bills establishing voting by mail as a default option, expanded early voting and detailing in-person voting methods in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Quentin Palfrey chairs the Voter Protection Corps, which recently was launched to address difficulties ahead of the 2020 election. He emphasizes that the timing of these laws is important to avoid situations such as the Iowa caucuses and Wisconsin primary.

"The adoption of a new method of voting, when it is done quickly, can often cause confusion," he states. "So we need to be putting in place these reforms now in order for them to be ready for the general election and for the primary."

The Massachusetts state primary is scheduled for Sept. 1 and the general election for Nov. 3.

Palfrey is testifying at the virtual election laws hearing Thursday, which starts at 1 p.m.

While Palfrey appreciates that vote-by-mail and early voting in Massachusetts increase access, he mentions something important to consider.

"When early vote was expanded in 2016, it was a great experiment and has had a lot of success," he states. "But you see early adoption in places with higher income levels."

Palfrey says these methods will take time to be widely adopted in lower-income areas, and that many African-Americans prefer voting in person.

For this reason, he emphasizes the significance of ensuring that in-person voting is safe and easy.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - MA