Over one million Massachusetts residents have requested vote-by-mail ballots ahead of the state's Sept. 1 primary and November presidential elections, Secretary of State William Galvin said Tuesday.
In a press conference, Galvin said the state had been "very effective" in its effort to provide safe, secure ways to vote amid the coronavirus pandemic and controversy over mail-in ballots and the role of the U.S. Postal Service.
According to Galvin, some 949,000 mail-in ballots had been sent out to residents, and of those, some 149,000 had already been returned.
"We're quite delighted with this response; we certainly think it is going to help to increase the turnout but also give people the option to participate without concerning themselves about their health," he said.
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The Postal Service is under fire for its plans to get rid of hundreds of pieces of letter-sorting equipment and its warning to most states that it might not be able to deliver mail-in ballots on time in November.
Galvin said he was "alarmed" to receive a notice from the Postal Service warning states the agency may not be able to fulfill requests for mail-in ballots.
"I'm concerned about it.... The postal service has been able to provide ballot delivery even during wars, so I don't understand why this would be such a problem." he said. "I really have to wonder about the motivation."
He advocated for legal action being mulled by attorneys general to make sure all votes in the November elections are counted on time.
"My experience with the Trump administration through the census has been the only way you remedy bureaucratic problems they create is to go to court."
Galvin said the state was taking steps to ensure safe and secure voting, including advising towns and cities to set up drop boxes at secure locations where people can drop off their mail-in ballots. Drop boxes will also be set up at early voting sites.
Galvin said the state was going to "great lengths" to make sure polling places would be safe and secure and that social distancing would be maintained there. He said it voting in person would be safer than shopping at most supermarkets.
Early voting for the Sept. 1 primary, which includes a heated Democratic Senate primary, begins this Saturday.
Last night on the campaign trial, President Donald Trump continued his attack on the reliability of voting by mail.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling lawmakers back into session to deal with the issue while a number of states - including Massachusetts - are considering legal action against the post office to ensure mail-in voting is not a problem.
Meanwhile, members of the state‘s congressional delegation are set to hold a number of events Tuesday over concerns with the Postal Service.