Mass. high court rejects GOP challenge to mail-in voting law

A voter places an election ballot in a drop box in Somerville in 2020. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A voter places an election ballot in a drop box in Somerville in 2020. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court says mail-in voting does not violate the state's constitution.

The Massachusetts Republican Party had been challenging the state's new law, dubbed the VOTES Act, that allows anyone to vote by mail for any reason.

The bill was signed into law last month by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.
The state GOP argued that permanently allowing mail-in voting would lead to voter fraud.

The SJC order handed down on Monday read: "The plaintiffs' request to enjoin the Secretary from putting the VOTES act into effect is denied."

The VOTES Act requires that the secretary of state mail out applications for ballots to all registered voters 45 days before the primary election — meaning that Secretary William Galvin needs to mail the ballots on July 23 this year. The court noted in its order that it had to act quickly in order to allow the secretary to meet the deadline, but would issue "a full opinion explaining the court’s reasoning" at a later date.

The SJC decision clears Secretary of State William Galvin to begin sending ballot applications to voters later this month.

In a statement, Mass. GOP said they intend to appeal to the Supreme Court because the case "presented significant issues of both state and federal law."

“We hope that Supreme Court will provide relief to prevent a constitutional travesty presented by this law,” Mass. GOP chair Jim Lyons said. “Only in Massachusetts can absentee voting possibly be defined as the mailing of 4.7 million ballot applications to every voter in the commonwealth.”

Galvin says he’s not concerned about a potential appeal from the state's Republican party.

“We're proceeding immediately,” he said. “They have no injunction against me. They better catch me if they can, because I'm going to make sure voters have the right to vote [by mail] if they possibly can.”

He added that the decision sends a message to the rest of the country.

“At a time when so many states are reversing the rights of voters, reducing them, we are expanding them,” he said. “And I think that's the right way to go.”

Mail-in voting has been allowed for the last two years because of the pandemic.

With reporting by WBUR's newscast unit and Ally Jarmanning 



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