Rep. Benson Votes with House to Pass Legislation to Establish Automatic Voter Registration

BOSTON – Representative Jennifer Benson joined her colleagues in the House of Representatives last week to pass legislation creating an efficient and streamlined automatic voter registration (AVR) system.

This legislation directs the Secretary of State to work with the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) and MassHealth to automatically add eligible individuals to the Commonwealth’s voter rolls. The Secretary of State will adopt regulations governing the AVR system, including provisions requiring electronic transmission, data security protocols, and integration with online portals.

“The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy,” said Representative Benson. “The House just took a huge step to protect that right and expand the electorate. If it becomes law, H.4667 will make civic participation easier for every Massachusetts resident.”

Under this legislation, registration agencies will transmit electronic records of the legal name, age, residence, citizenship information, and electronic signature of each qualified person to the board of registrars of the municipality where the person lives. The board of registrars will then send a notice to the individual informing them that they have been registered to vote and offer the opportunity to choose a party affiliation or decline to be registered. If the individual does not decline within 21 days, their name will automatically be added to the voter lists.

The name and address of program participants will remain confidential and the Secretary of State will establish security measures to protect voter information.

The bill also requires Massachusetts to join the Electronic Registration Information Center, a non-profit that assists member states with improving voter roll accuracy and increasing access to voter registration. Under this legislation, automatic voter registration would begin on January 1, 2020, in time for the November 2020 elections.

The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.