Our Opinion: Early-voting effort must go forward in state
It is disappointing to find Gov. Charlie Baker joining his Republican colleagues in blocking new voting rights measures. The Legislature should respond by assuring they go forward this fall.
Last week, Gov. Baker vetoed $1.2 million in spending for a state-wide early-voting program. The law, which is set to start with the November general election, would enable Massachusetts to join 36 other states in allowing residents to vote up to 11 business days before Election Day. The veto is, as Secretary of State William Galvin told The Boston Globe, "irresponsible."
Early-voting is one of many options employed to avoid logjams at the polls on Election Day, which are not uncommon in urban areas that tend to vote Democratic. The Massachusetts law also gives municipalities the option of extending polling hours and establishing more voting sites to further accommodate voters, specifically low-income voters who lack transportation options and may work more than one job.
All of these measures have been opposed in recent years by Republican governors and legislatures, which have gone further to impose strict ID and registration requirements, ostensibly to address non-existent voter fraud. Gov. Baker, who won election by running as a moderate to appeal to Democratic and unenrolled voters, is in this case, as Mr. Galvin, a Democrat, said, acting in a manner "typical of Republican governors who do not support the expansion of voting rights."
The governor's office did not respond directly to Globe inquiries seeking an explanation for the veto, perhaps because there is no good reason for it.
This relatively inexpensive program to bring people to the polls constitutes an effort to expand the democratic process, which should not intimidate anyone.
The Legislature should override the veto and restore the funding before the month is out.
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