Boston residents who fail to register by Wednesday will be unable to vote in next month's preliminary mayoral election, as bills authorizing people to register and vote on election day remain under legislative review.
Massachusetts lawmakers and voting rights activists for years have urged adoption of a so-called same-day registration bill, and while the idea has gained traction in the state Senate, it has repeatedly bogged out in the House.
Back in April, Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo and the NAACP Boston branch called for adoption by the Legislature of a home rule petition for Boston's municipal elections, saying the change would increase voter turnout and "reduce barriers to participation for marginalized and historically disenfranchised communities."
Before the summer recess began, the Joint Committee on Election Laws advanced an omnibus voting access bill authorizing same-day registration while permanently extending mail-in voting and early voting options. That bill now rests before the Senate Ways and Means Committee. A push is expected this fall to extend mail-in voting, which expires in December under current law, and the registration reform could be packaged with that.
Meantime, as Boston mayoral race candidates try to attract support in the weeks remaining before the Sept. 14 preliminary election narrows the field to two competitors, eligible but unregistered voters have only until 8 p.m. Wednesday to register. The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 2 election is Oct. 13 at 8 p.m.
In May, Sen. Cynthia Creem of Newton said she thinks "the stars are aligned" to enact same-day registration, a policy already in place in 20 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
"As I have said for several years, I believe that with the appropriate technological safeguards in place, we can implement same-day voter registration in a convenient and secure manner, as several of our neighboring states have done," Secretary of State William Galvin, the state's top elections office, said in a statement back in February.
Some of the same-day registration reform proposals pending before the Legislature would are more sweeping and would also allow people to register and vote during early voting periods.