Time to Change the Baystate Voter Registration Cut-off Period [Poll]
As if the Presidential election cycle isn’t traumatic enough, now there’s a movement under foot, spear-headed by the ACLU of Massachusetts to change the voter registration cut-off date. And, a court hearing for a preliminary injunction is scheduled in this case for Monday, read: the day before the November 8 election.
There are three Bay state residents claiming they want to vote, but can’t because they registered after the 20 day cut off period. They can register to vote, but not for the November 8 election. To the naysayers these residents had 345 days to register. Too bad you're late!
According to the lawsuit, “The right to vote is precious; it is safeguarded by the Massachusetts Constitution and its Declaration of Rights, and it can be restricted only by measures that serve a compelling state interest and that use the least restrictive means to achieve that interest.”
Cutting through the legal jibber jabber, what’s at issue is the lengthy twenty day cut-off period. Is it the least restrictive? Obviously not! Thirteen states and our nation’s capital allow same day voter registration.
If that's not enough, here are some very strong reasons why the Plantiffs should win this case, thus opening the door to a change in our antiquated 20 day voter registration cut-off date.
- Massachusetts makes a huge exception to the 20 day rule for newly naturalized citizens. You didn't know? If you're not a citizen on October 19 you can't register, but become Naturalized on October 31, trick or treat, you can register to vote. It would be odd that a new citizen can register, but not a lifelong citizen.
- Nobody questions this exception. Military members returning from serving overseas. If the Commonwealth can make way for them to register to vote, how can you "just say no" to others?
- As of this writing, we are experiencing a big #3 right now. It’s called early voting. Recall, the last day to register to vote for the November 8 elections was October 19. However, just five days later, on October 24, Massachusetts began early voting. How long will it take a judge to realize twenty days is not the “least restrictive means to achieve” “a compelling state interest?”
I'm not holding my breath for any judge to grant the three plaintiffs the right to vote on November 8, but the barn door sure is wide open for scrapping the unneeded twenty day cut-off rule.
Feel free to comment below.
Brian Thomas hosts Brian's Beat, Monday-Friday, 10:00 AM-Noon