July Opportunities for Action
Racial Justice Update
Chokeholds and no-knock warrants are legal in Massachusetts. Join us Monday, July 13, at 7 p.m. for a briefing with Rep. Liz Miranda about her bill, HD.5128, to ban these measures. Rep. Miranda will also discuss the Ten Point Plan to Address Police Violence and Address Racial Justice issued by the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus. Register for Zoom meeting here.

The Legislative Action Committee has formed a Racial Justice subcommittee to keep track of proposed legislation related to racial justice. We sent an Action Alert on four racial justice bills June 15 asking you to contact your legislators to support the concepts in the four bills ( HD.5128/ SD.2968; H.1440; H.2146; H.2292), and you can still do so.

A number of other bills are expected to be introduced in the legislature before the end of July. Stay tuned as the Racial Justice subcommittee examines and compares bills as they evolve and suggests critical points for us to advocate for change.

The LWVMA Board signed on to a resolution that was adopted at the LWVUS national convention last weekend, “Urgent Resolution: Racial Justice for Black People and People of Color.” We are proud that Vedna Lacombe-Heywood, an incoming LWVMA director, was involved in drafting this resolution.

Election Bill Advances
The legislative conference committee reconciling the House and Senate versions of the bill addressing COVID-19 concerns for the fall elections released the final bill Monday, June 29. It is expected to pass the House Tuesday and the Senate Thursday and be sent to the Governor.

LWVMA urges Governor Baker to sign this bill immediately. It's going to take time for election officials to implement the needed reforms so that the Sept. 1 primary and Nov. 3 general elections operate both safely and efficiently.

Among the major provisions of the final bill, H.4820, are:
  • An application for a mail ballot will be sent to every registered voter before each election. Applications must be returned to local election officials by four days before the election.
  • In-person early voting Aug. 22-28 before the primary and Oct. 17-30 before the November election.
  • Voter registration deadline 10 days before each election instead of 20 days.
  • Postage-paid return for applications and mailed ballots.
  • Local election officials can process mailed ballots in a central location before Election Day. No results will be tabulated or reported until polls close.
  • Secure drop boxes for return of ballots.
  • For November election, ballots will be accepted if mailed on or before Election Day and received by Nov. 6.
  • Removes some restrictions for poll workers and allows elimination of checkout table at polls.
  • Regulations required to safeguard health of voters and election workers at polls.

See the Election Modernization Coalition's press release here.

Volunteer for Phone Banks for Voter Registration
Feel the need to take action around the upcoming elections? Our partners at the Massachusetts Voter Table are building on their experience using phone banks to contact people to fill out Census forms, and will be operating phone banks to encourage underrepresented groups to register to vote and to explain how to vote by mail. Later on, phone banks will encourage people to return their mail ballot applications and then their actual ballots.

So far, voting phone banks are scheduled for:
  • July 15: 11-1 and 5-7
  • July 16: 11-1 and 5-7
  • July 17: 11-1
  • July 18: 11-1 and 1-3
You can sign up to volunteer here. You'll need a computer and a phone; training and a script are provided. Please note you need to sign up for each day you would like to phone bank.

The voter outreach is being combined with the 2020 Census count outreach through the end of July. Residents of the lowest self-response communities are being called to ask them to fill out the 2020 Census and to remind them to register to vote. MassCounts is conducting phone banks through the end of July Tuesdays 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesdays 5-7 p.m., Thursdays 5-7 p.m., and Saturdays 1-3 p.m. You can sign up to work on both the Census and voter outreach.

Racial Disparities in Maternal Health
Please email your state Senator and ask for support of H.4818, An Act to reduce racial disparities in maternal health, which passed the House unanimously Tuesday. In Massachusetts, a black woman is twice as likely to die due to pregnancy-related causes than a white woman. This bill will create a commission to examine the causes of the racial disparities in maternal mortality in Massachusetts, and issue recommendations on how to end these health inequities. Read our testimony on the bill.

Ranked Choice Voting Gets Signatures
The Ranked Choice Voting ballot question campaign is one step closer to making it onto the November ballot after submitting its final petition signatures to over 300 city and town clerks. The campaign needed 13,374 signatures in the second round of signature gathering and submitted over 25,000. In its first round of signature collection, the campaign broke a record after 111,268 of its signatures were certified as valid. See press release for more details. The final list of November ballot questions will be released by the Secretary of the Commonwealth in early July.

Passionate About Criminal Justice Reform?
Colleen Kirby, our criminal justice reform legislative specialist, is looking for help. She would like a co-specialist to work with her on criminal justice legislation, to join the Legislative Action Committee, and to become familiar with the coalitions in this area that she works with. If you feel strongly about the need for LWVMA to continue to press for criminal justice reform, please email Colleen and join her in this important work.

Check Your Town's 2020 Census Response Rate
You can track the 2020 Census response rate for your community at the Census Bureau’s interactive Response Rate map. This can help you and your local League design outreach to increase the count in your area. Check to see if your community has a Complete Count Committee to collaborate with to ensure every household participates in the Census.

LWVUS Get Out the Vote Toolkit
The LWVUS Education Fund has updated its Get out the Vote Toolkit – with new tips and resources in light of the challenges to reach voters during COVID-19. The toolkit includes research-driven best practices, scripts and sample messages.

Check Out Our Video Contest Winners
Take a break and take a look at the winners of our annual student video contest. LWVMA invited Massachusetts high school students to create 30-second videos answering the question: "Should 16-year-olds have the right to vote?"
First Place:  I Can't Vote, Needham High School
Second Place:  Why 16 year olds Should Vote: By the Facts, Northampton High School
Third Place:  A Stronger Democracy, Sandwich High School
Honorable Mention:
Why 16-Year-Olds Should Have the Right to Vote, Amherst Regional High School
16 Year Olds-Let Them Vote!, Dartmouth High School

Legislation Progress Update
Actions taken in June on bills we support.
Bills reported favorably out of committee:
S.1388 - An Act relative to crime gun data reporting and analysis
H.1949 - An Act to reduce racial disparities in maternal health
H.2653 - An Act relative to regional transportation ballot initiatives
Bills no longer active this session:
S.2116 - An Act relative to a clean transportation future
How to Contact Your Legislator:   You can find phone numbers, email addresses and office addresses on the legislature’s webpage for your Senator and Representative.  Go to   www.malegislature.gov  and click on the Legislators tab.  If you don’t know who your legislators are, click  here .
The LWVMA Action Newsletter is distributed to all LWVMA members. Anyone can request the Action Newsletter by clicking  here . Please review this Newsletter for articles of interest to your League and include them in your local Bulletin.
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