Election 2020

Massachusetts to Mull Permanent Mail-in Voting System, Galvin Says

Galvin also slammed President Donald's Trump's Election Night claim to victory, calling it "deceitful" and "criminal"

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Massachusetts will explore the possibility of making mail-in voting a permanent option, Secretary of State William Galvin said Wednesday, after what he called "successful" elections in the state this week.

"We've now proven it works, and voters know how to use it well, so I certainly think we want that going forward," Galvin told reporters Wednesday.

Galvin said he would form a working group including local clerks to mull the possibility, including whether the option would be available for municipal elections as well.

The working group will also consider various smaller changes based on this week's elections including about how drop boxes are operated.

"All in all, I think it was a very successful day," Galvin said about the elections, adding the state was still counting some ballots, including overseas military ballots, before official results are made public.

Galvin said he was "very concerned" with the how the presidential election, which was still hotly contested Wednesday morning, could play out, calling President Trump's Election Night claim he had won the election "deceitful."

Former Vice President Joe Biden talked to supporters in Wilmington, De., Tuesday night. “We knew this was going to go long,” Biden said. “But look, we feel good about where we are. We really do. We believe we’re on track to win this election.”

"The idea that you would somehow disqualify the rights of voters simply because simply because you are ahead, is unacceptable an un-American... and criminal," he said. "Every vote should be counted."

On Tuesday morning, Galvin said Election Day had gotten off to a smooth start, though some voters waited in long lines in Boston, and a small number of others faced administrative challenges at the polls.

"We've had minor administrative problems, but by and large, it's been a very successful morning so far,” Secretary of State William Galvin said Tuesday.

In the elections, former Vice President Joe Biden won Massachusetts over President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Edward Markey and elected Democrat Jake Auchincloss to the state's open House seat.

John Hickenlooper defeated Sen. Cory Gardner in the Colorado Senate race.

Voters approved a ballot question to expand the state's ``Right to Repair'' law but rejected a question that would have brought ranked-choice voting to the Bay State.

A coalition of voter advocacy groups in Massachusetts reported seeing relatively few election problems on Tuesday, though reports surfaced in Lawrence and at a polling place in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood that poll workers improperly asked voters for identification, according to Sophia Hall, supervising attorney at Lawyers for Civil Rights in Boston.

At English High in Jamaica Plain, a volunteer working with the coalition reported seeing an election worker request ID to compare names against the voter rolls, Hall said. The worker appeared to be requesting ID from Latinos and people with accents, based on the volunteer's observation, Hall said.

In Lawrence, three people contacted the coalition’s voter protection hotline on Tuesday morning to report they were asked to show ID at the polls with no explanation. The callers were each Latino, Hall said.

Massachusetts law permits poll workers to request ID in only limited circumstances, such as when a newly-registered voter is casting a ballot in Massachusetts for the first time, or if the voter is listed as inactive, meaning they haven’t responded to the local census in their town or city for two consecutive years, Hall said.

In Waltham, some voters were also asked for ID during early voting last week, though the city has now reversed the practice, Hall said.

The election protection coalition includes MassVOTE, Common Cause Massachusetts and the ACLU of Massachusetts. The groups trained some 2,000 volunteers to observe election activities in Massachusetts this fall. Volunteers were on the ground at polling sites in 15 cities Tuesday, including Boston, Chelsea, Revere, Everett, Lynn, Lawrence, Lowell, Springfield, Randolph, Brockton, Fall River, New Bedford and Worcester, Hall said.

The coalition fielded more than 200 calls to its voter hotline during the early hours of voting Tuesday, though most were from voters looking for more information — not reporting irregularities at the polls.

Some 3.6 million people are expected to vote in the Massachusetts election, surpassing previous turnout records. Many have already weighed in, choosing to vote early or mail in or drop off their ballots to avoid long lines amid the pandemic.

Nevertheless, some voters in Boston waited upwards of 40 minutes to cast their ballots after the polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday. As many as 175 people at a time were queued up during peak voting activity in some of the city’s busiest spots, including polling locations in Dorchester and Mattapan, Hall said.

"What we see in those particular areas today is unfortunately significantly long lines,” she said.

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Rahsaan Hall, director of the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, said the massive expansion of mail-in balloting this year also caused some confusion at the polls. There have been a couple of reports of voters being improperly turned away in Lawrence because they previously requested a mail-in ballot, but chose to vote in person instead.

Galvin said his office was also notified of some minor "campaign conduct issues" in Boston, Lowell and West Boylston, but nothing that prevented people from voting or required intervention. 

"It was more just people didn't understand the rules," Galvin said. "They didn't understand where they were supposed to be. If they were observers, they were there to observe and not interact with voters. Those things were quickly resolved."

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