With states like North Carolina and Texas working hard to deprive voters of their rights it is encouraging to see Massachusetts in the process of adding rights by allowing early voting up to 10 days before an election. Unfortunately it is far easier legislatively to take rights away than it is to give them, but there is no time like the present to begin the process.
The House and Senate, meeting jointly in a constitutional convention Wednesday, advanced the early voting measure unanimously by voice vote with no debate. The proposal came in the form of an amendment to the Constitution proposed by Senate President Therese Murray, who said in a statement that "Election Day has changed dramatically throughout the nation as our populations have grown and it's important that we provide all residents with the opportunity to vote." Early voting helps residents avoid long lines at the booths and get around schedule conflicts.
The amendment must get approval from lawmakers meeting outside the constitutional convention again this session and once more in the next legislative session beginning in 2015, and would then need to be ratified by voters at a referendum. Changing the state Constitution should be a difficult process to provide roadblocks for destructive ideas, but in this case it does mean that approval will not come before the 2016 presidential elections.
It was far easier for North Carolina's Republican governor and Legislature to chop early voting by a week and end same-day voter registration in the attempt to address "voter fraud" that they can't document. It's not a coincidence that 70 percent of African-Americans voted early in the last two North Carolina elections. Far better to make it easier for Americans to vote than to make it more difficult.