STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MAY 16, 2019.....Ten months before the 2020 Massachusetts presidential primary, Secretary of State William Galvin is trying to force lawmakers to decide whether to expand early voting and give voters five extra days beginning in February cast their ballots.

Galvin, who has previously backed an expansion of early voting to include the presidential primary election, drafted a proposal that Sen. Michael Brady, of Brockton, has filed as an amendment to the state budget.

If adopted when the Senate debates its version of the fiscal 2020 spending bill next week, the question of early voting in the 2020 primary will move into conference committee negotiations between the House and Senate.

"Early voting has been enormously popular in Massachusetts since we began offering it in 2016," Galvin said in a statement Thursday. "Expanding early voting to include the Presidential Primaries will make it much more convenient for voters to show up and have their voices heard.”

The primary in Massachusetts is scheduled for March 3. Brady's amendment would create a window from Monday, Feb. 24, 2020 through Friday, Feb. 28, 2020 for voters to cast their ballots ahead of the primary. Early voting would also apply to any city or town election held at the same time as the presidential primary.

Under state law, early voting is only allowed currently during the biennial state general elections. The state's first experience with early voting occurred over 10 days ahead of the November 2016 elections.

"Allowing flexibility for voters is especially important for the 2020 Presidential Primaries, which I expect (to) be a high turnout election, and which also happens to fall at a time of year when the weather can impact a voter's ability to get to the polls,” Galvin said.

The House last year declined to go along with a Senate-approved measure to facilitate early voting before last year's September primaries.

"It just seemed to me there was really no outcry for it here in the House," Rep. John Mahoney of Worcester told the News Service last summer. "The primaries are very, very low turnout anyways so it seems the people who are interested show up for those."

Mahoney co-chaired the Election Laws Committee last session; this session the House chair is Rep. John Lawn of Watertown.

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