“Voting: Let’s Get It Right!” That is the focus of the Legislative Committee’s program, scheduled for Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. in the Hermann Room of the Falmouth Public Library. This program will feature a panel discussion during which our two State Representatives, David Vieira and Dylan Fernandes, will converse with Town Clerk Michael Palmer about election-oriented legislation currently before the Massachusetts legislature.
The pending bills cover a wide spectrum. Several bills, all supported by the Massachusetts League, are designed to make voting more convenient. One would permit election day registration, others would expand early voting, and a final bill proposes a constitutional amendment to permit no-excuse absentee voting. There also is one bill, opposed by the Massachusetts League, which threatens to restrict voting by requiring photo IDs at the polls.
A second group of bills relate to the vote-counting process. Ranked-choice voting, supported by the League, would give voters more options, allowing them to designate alternate choices on their ballots in multi-candidate elections. If no candidate obtains a majority, the votes for the lowest ranked candidate would be redistributed based on that candidate’s supporters next-highest choices – and so on until one candidate obtains a majority of the votes. This allows voters to support third party candidates without throwing their votes away. The legislature also is considering a more technical bill, also supported by the Massachusetts League, which would amend the current rules for election audits. It would expand the types of audited elections and change the criteria for selecting audit locations. A third bill concerns the procedure for returning overseas ballots, a bill the Massachusetts League opposes because of the possible danger of hacking.
The final group of bills impact the candidate-pool. One, supported by the League, would permit parents to use campaign funds for child-care expenses incurred due to the campaign. Obviously, this bill, if enacted, would encourage young mothers to run for political office. The other, which the League opposes, would completely eliminate the Massachusetts program of limited campaign finance involving matching funds, which is currently carried out through check-offs on tax returns. Indeed, the Massachusetts League would prefer to expand the current program, not abolish it.
Our March 19 format is designed to promote consideration of the proposed bills from both the legislative and administrative points of view. Hopefully, League members, the public, and maybe even the panelists will gain new insight as the discussion proceeds. Of course, League members and other members of the audience also will have the opportunity to ask questions and make comments.
Our program is devoted to voting issues in honor of our Centennial Year Please come to “Voting: Let’s Get It Right!” We hope it will be interesting and informative, and we may even have a brief humorous Centennial surprise for you.