Massachusetts plans to institute early voting procedures this election year, but unfortunately it is getting late.
A survey released Thursday by the Election Modernization Coalition reported that 138 of the 313 (out of 351) municipalities reached, 138 were nearly ready, 126 had tentative plans and 49 had not begun planning. Pam Galvin, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, told The Boston Globe that Secretary of State William Galvin failed to send guidelines to town and city clerks early enough while Mr. Galvin counters that "I think the timeline is realistic."
Regardless of whether or not fault should be found, it is doubtful that the state will be fully prepared to join the 36 other states that have instituted early voting measures, in the state's case from October 24 to November 4. Governor Baker, who like most Republican officials is no ally of efforts to make it easier to vote, vetoed $1.2 million to help the early voting program, but the Legislature has restored the funding. Secretary Galvin has indicated that his office would provide some funds for municipalities for overtime expenses and other related early voting expenses.
The state's early voting law was enacted in 2014 and applies to November elections held every two years. Early voting benefits low-income voters who may not be able to get out of work to vote on Election Day. It gives options to the elderly and others who may have health or transportation issues. It a boost to the democratic process, and Massachusetts, as a democratic birthplace, must institute early voting to the greatest extent possible this fall. The clock is ticking.