Jul 12, 2022 - News

Mail-in ballot applications heading to Mass. voters

Secretary of State Bill Galvin stands behind a wooden podium next to a large blue and white "vote by mail" sign in the state library.
Secretary of State Bill Galvin says the state's moving full steam ahead on sending out mail-in ballots. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios

Applications to vote by mail in the Sept. 6 state primary will arrive at Massachusetts households in the next couple of weeks, Secretary of State Bill Galvin told reporters Monday.

Driving the news: The Supreme Judicial Court yesterday rejected MassGOP's request to block the state from implementing the new voting law, including its requirement to send out mail-in ballot applications 45 days before an election.

  • The SJC's order allows Galvin's office to proceed as planned for the state primary and the Nov. 8 general election.
  • The presses have started rolling on the applications, and the state plans to send them to some 4.7 million eligible voters next week, Galvin said.

Why it matters: State officials can start making good on their promise to offer more flexible voting options as early as the state primary.

  • Proponents of mail-in voting and expanded earlier voting say it makes casting ballots more accessible for voters who have long work hours, disabilities, heightened risk for COVID-19, and other barriers keeping them from the polls on Election Day.

Catch up fast: MassGOP filed a lawsuit last month shortly after Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, signed the voting reform into law. The group claimed the expansions of "absentee voting" are unconstitutional.

  • The SJC ruling does not kill the lawsuit, but it allows the new law to remain in effect while the high court reviews the case.

What to know: Voters have until Aug. 29 to apply for a mail-in ballot ahead of the primary.

  • The state will provide prepaid postage for voters to mail back the applications.
  • Voters can also apply for a mail-in ballot by emailing their local election officials.
  • Election clerks must have mail-in ballots before the polls close the night of Sept. 6. Ballots that come in late through the mail won't be accepted.

Residents can register to vote until Aug. 22 if they want to cast their ballots in the state primary.

  • Be smart: Check to make sure you're registered to vote and that your address is up to date on the state elections website.
  • If you've moved recently, applications and mail-in ballots won't be forwarded, Galvin said.

What's next: While the SJC reviews the lawsuit, MassGOP said in a news release Monday that they plan to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, citing unspecified "federal law issues" in the new law.

  • Asked about the possible appeal, Galvin was quick to note that the Supreme Court typically defers to a state's highest court's interpretation of state constitutional matters.
  • "We're going ahead," Galvin said. "I have no injunction, so I'm moving as fast as I can. Catch me if you can."
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