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'Motor Voter' Legislation Passes Senate on Unanimous Vote
10:02PM / Thursday, July 12, 2018
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BOSTON — The state Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a version of the so-called "motor voter law," H.4671, An Act automatically registering eligible voters and enhancing safeguards against fraud, by a vote of 38-0.  
The legislation creates a framework in which eligible voters will be automatically registered to vote when receiving services from the Registry of Motor vehicles, MassHealth, and other participating state agencies. The framework will be overseen and implemented by the secretary of state.
"Voting is a fundamental right in our society and yet, today, 680,000 eligible residents in Massachusetts are not registered to vote," said state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, in a statement announcing the passage. "My hope is today's action will eliminate barriers and help these eligible residents participate in our democratic process by adding them to the voter database as they conduct official transactions with state agencies."
The legislation also bolsters voter-data security. It updates the requirements for transmission of voter registration affidavits and requires the secretary of state to promulgate regulations to ensure registration is done through electronic transmission, with data security protocols and integration with the online portals.
"Automatic voter registration will allow the commonwealth to work toward making sure that the hundreds of thousands of eligible citizens who are currently not registered to vote can participate in our democracy," said state Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, Senate chair of the Election Laws Committee. "Enacting this legislation will help engage more individuals politically while giving the commonwealth a valuable tool that will help clean up active voter lists and ensure that they are clear and free of error."
The legislation also increases penalties associated with voter fraud. It orders that whoever knowingly provides false information in connection with automatic voter registration shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for up to five years or both.
The legislation now goes back to the House of Representatives for consideration, where Automatic Voter Registration was passed in late June by a vote of 131-20.
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