Soon, You Could Be Registered to Vote Automatically

A bill to do so has landed on Charlie Baker's desk.

Photo via AP/Elise Amendola

Maybe you’re overwhelmed by the flood of legislation making its way through the State House right now as the session comes to a close, but it’s worth pointing out that a major shift in the way Massachusetts does elections could be right around the corner: Automatic voter registration.

Just under the wire this week, a bill that would automatically add residents to the voter rolls when they renew their license at the RMV or sign up for MassHealth has made it to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk where it awaits his signature.

The bill would also let people who decide they don’t want to be registered to opt out.

Bill Galvin, the secretary of state who oversees elections, has urged him to sign it. “I am eager to begin implementing this new law and start automatically registering voters in time for the 2020 Presidential Primary,” Galvin tells the State House News Service.

Common Cause Massachusetts estimates there are 680,000 people who are eligible but not registered to vote. You may never be able to convince some people to turn out on election day—even proponents have said automatic voter registration might only bump up participation by 5 percent—but getting them set up to do so could go a long way in making sure our representatives actually represent all of us. Common CAuse’s executive director Pam Wilmot has called the legislation “one of the strongest automatic voter registration bills in the country. Now, her group is hoping they can get Baker’s attention before it’s too late.