Make Voting Accessible and More Secure

Easy access to the vote and having that vote count is as fundamental as it gets.  Expanding access to secure voting will be a top priority of the Patrick Administration.  The Justice Department in a Patrick administration will aggressively combat the vote suppression that has steadily and cynically choked off the fundamental act of citizenship.  We would also explore ways to make voting easier: automatic or same day voter registration, early voting and voting by mail or online.  We need to update the Voting Rights Act, and engage a joint state-federal effort to incentivize states to expand access to the ballot.

Democracy Track Record

  • Deval joined the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund and worked as a civil rights attorney after graduating from law school, where he litigated voting rights cases to expand access or defend voting activists.
  • Deval led the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he enforced the Voting Rights Act as well as addressed issues like racial profiling, police misconduct, and lending discrimination.
  • As Governor, Deval signed an election reform law, which allowed early voting in Massachusetts, established online voter registration, and required audits to ensure that voting machines are working correctly.

  • Under Governor Patrick, Massachusetts entered an interstate compact that would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide once it was adopted by states representing a majority of the electoral college.

Priorities​

Fix the Voting Rights Act

We will commit the United States to an ambitious nationwide goal of increasing Election Day voter turnout by 20% over the next decade.  Across the country, in states red and blue, the Patrick administration will lead a non-partisan effort to encourage

Boost Participation

A Patrick administration will commit to increasing Election Day voter participation to 90% over the next decade.  Across the country, in states red and blue, the Patrick administration will lead a non-partisan effort to encourage eligible voters to get involved and to vote in state, local and federal elections.  We will establish achievable and national turnout metrics for state, local and federal election cycles, accounting for midterm elections and off-years with fewer contested races.  To make that goal a reality, we will:

  • Work with Congress, the states, and federal agencies to automatically register every eligible voter in the United States (unless a voter opts out) through a combination of new federal laws passed under the Elections Clause and competitive grant programs to support innovations in voting at the state level;
  • Engage civil society, educators and the private sector in a civics education campaign to boost understanding of and participation in our democracy which will coincide with plans to celebrate our country’s 250th birthday in 2026; and
  • Boost student voting on campuses by partnering with institutions of higher education.

Secure Our Elections

Through a mix of competitive grants and federal funding tied to mandatory standards, we will secure our election machinery and processes from foreign interference.  New nationwide election administration guidelines will require states and municipalities to:

  • Replace aging and vulnerable machines with the most secure technology, able to produce a hard record;
  • Conduct regular post-election audits; and
  • Conduct regular risk assessments and ongoing monitoring of election infrastructure with the assistance of federal law enforcement and intelligence professionals.

Improve Voting at the Federal Level

Work with Congress and across the federal government through an interagency process to spur new voting reforms and enhance the experience of participating in government, at all levels.  Such efforts would include:

  • Early Voting. Establish a national standard for early voting to allow voters to cast ballots in their communities at convenient times in advance of Election Day.
  • Make Election Day a Federal Holiday. The Patrick Administration will work with Congress to push to make Election Day a federal holiday.
  • Support Transgender Voting. Form an interagency working group to address cross-state identification issues that make it harder for transgender individuals to register and vote.  
  • Enforce the HEA. Enforce provisions of the Higher Education Act requiring higher education institutions to develop plans to promote student voting. 
  • Make Overseas and Military Voting Easier. It is intolerable that military families and citizens living abroad in defense of our democracy have difficulty participating meaningfully in elections.  We will work with states, the Defense Department, the Postal Service, the State Department, and all relevant stakeholders to address that shortcoming.

Incentivize Local Voting Reforms.

Following the model of the Obama Administration’s “Race to the Top,” we will establish a competitive grant program administered by a revitalized and revamped Election Assistance Commission to award funding to states and municipalities that commit to making pro-voting reforms.  The program will reward states that engage in reforms such as:

  • Same day registration;
  • Early voting;
  • Voting by mail;
  • Efforts to reduce waiting times at polling locations;
  • Ending felon disenfranchisement;
  • Pre-registration of young people below the age of 18;
  • Expanding language options for ballots at polling locations; and
  • Experimenting with more convenient voting days and locations.

Combat Voting Restrictions

As President, I will direct the Justice Department to challenge efforts anywhere to make it more difficult for some voters to cast their ballots.

  • We will aggressively police the practice of indiscriminately “purging” voter rolls and police efforts by states to de-register citizens by participating in poorly designed interstate “cross-check” systems.

End Felon Disenfranchisement

Work with states and Congress to restore voting rights to citizens who have served out their sentence and returned to society, and keep that engagement up to ensure that restoration actually happens, and happens quickly.

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