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Randolph Dems call for No-Excuse Absentee Balloting
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original article in the Randolph Journal-Sun, May 16, 2021
To the editor:
Voting rights has become a major policy topic in 2021, and the Randolph Democratic Town Committee encourages the people of Randolph to support and advocate for expansion of voting in the upcoming municipal election this November, and in all elections thereafter.
The 2020 election took place under pandemic conditions requiring an expansion of voting rights -- which resulted in the largest voter turnout in American history last November. Naysayers want to undo the gains made in 2020 by replacing the pandemic-based voting measures with ever more restrictive voter suppression measures. The Randolph Dems instead support making permanent those pandemic-based voting measures, because they have been proven to ensure both secure voting and more participatory voting.
Voting rights are being addressed at the national level and state level in current legislation -- but voting rights at the municipal level are left to each municipality. In other words, the people of Randolph will decide whether to expand voting rights or suppress voting rights, in November 2021 and beyond. We support the following to expand voting rights:
- No-excuse absentee balloting: In 2020, anyone could request an absentee ballot to vote by mail. But in 2021, the old restriction will come back, that you must sign a document that you're unavailable to vote on election day. Keeping "no-excuse absentee balloting" was supported by 80% of Randolph Charter Committee but rejected by the Town Council 5-4. Only Councilors Clerger, Clifton, Gordon, and Huff-Larmond supported no-excuse absentee balloting. We consider this the most important policy because it was passed by our Charter Committee and would have the largest effect because it makes municipal voting much easier for people working out of town on election day. 27 states allow no-excuse absentee balloting -- but Massachusetts does not.
- Same-day registration: 21 states allow registering to vote at the polls on election day. Massachusetts does not. People get interested in voting when elections occur, and should be able to register at that time, instead of the current Massachusetts rule of 20 days ahead.
- Early voting: Massachusetts is among 43 states that allow in-person early voting, but the details are left to each municipality. We advocate that Randolph actively encourage early voting by a municipal program "Souls to the Polls" where the election office is open for early voting on the two Sundays prior to an election, with transportation provided from apartment complexes, houses of worship, and other gathering places.
Each of the above policies were used in many states in 2020, and each of the above policies increased voter turnout -- resulting in the largest number of voters in United States history last November. During the 2020 elections, the above policies were demonstrated to be "secure" -- making voting easier doesn't mean more voter fraud, by any measurement.
That final consideration is why the Randolph Town Council rejected no-excuse absentee balloting. So we checked with our town and our state about cases of voter fraud -- there were none in 2020. In fact, in the prior decade, with tens of millions of votes cast, Massachusetts prosecuted exactly four cases of voter fraud -- and three of those involved politicians cheating, not voters cheating!
Please advocate for voting rights and more voting. Please join us in denying the false stories about voter fraud, which are just a pretext for voter suppression. Write to your Town Councilors and State representatives saying so! Our next meeting is Thursday June 3rd at 7 pm -- https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9633988959 -- we will discuss this issue and others then!
- Andrew Azer, Chair of the Charter Review Committee and former Town Councilor
- Sandi Cohen, Treasurer of the Randolph Democratic Town Committee
- Judy Conway, Member of the Charter Review Committee and the Randolph Democratic Town Committee
- Kevin Donovan, Member of the Charter Review Committee
- Jesse Gordon, Chair of the Randolph Democratic Town Committee and District 2 Town Councilor
- Sandy Slavet, Member of the Randolph Democratic Town Committee
- Yvonne Watson, Member of the Charter Review Committee