June Opportunities for Action
As we stay at home to defeat the COVID-19 virus, LWVMA offers some specific actions you can still take, and informative online programs to better prepare you for action once we resume full-scale League activity. Please take advantage of the options below that interest you. Note that email is the best way to contact legislators, who are working remotely.
Be Part of LWVMA Council June 13
Hear an expert on elections during a pandemic—what we need to do in the next five months and what we should do in the next five years. MIT Professor Charles Stewart will be the keynote speaker for our Council 2020 virtual meeting Saturday, June 13. He is co-director of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab.

All League members are invited to Council. Our session will begin at 10 a.m. with a brief business meeting to elect officers and directors, receive a financial update, and hear from our Executive Director about ways LWVMA is working during these strange times. Professor Stewart's presentation will follow the business meeting, beginning around 10:30 a.m.

Each League has an allotted number of voting delegates based on membership numbers as of Feb. 1. You can review here how many delegates your League can have. Local Leagues will designate who will be their voting delegates. All other League members can register and attend as observers.
 
Registration: Please register here in advance for the Zoom Council 2020. You can register as either a delegate or as an observer. We expect Council to last about 90 minutes.

Ask Your Representative to Support Elections Bill
The Joint Committee on Election Laws is expected to report a bill dealing with the fall elections out of committee Monday, June 1. The bill number was not listed at press time, but we will have more information on our website when it is available. The bill will go to the House Ways & Means Committee and is expected to come up for a vote in the House on Wednesday.
 
The bill calls for the Secretary of the Commonwealth to mail an application for absentee ballots to all registered voters by July 15. Voters can use that application to request ballots for both the Sept. 1 primary and Nov. 3 general elections. This compromise replaces the provision we were supporting to mail the actual ballots to all voters before the Nov. 3 election without an application.
 
The bill calls for an online portal to apply for absentee ballots. It removes the requirement for checkout tables at the polls to reduce the number of poll workers needed and removes restrictions on who can be a poll worker. It provides one week of early voting before the primary, including weekend hours. Early voting is already a requirement for the November election.
 
The League and our partners in the Election Modernization Coalition are encouraging the addition of other provisions either in Ways & Means or on the House floor. Those provisions include allowing town clerks and city election officials to process mailed ballots in a central location as they are received rather than waiting until Election Day. The votes will not be tabulated nor reported until the polls close.
 
We also are looking for prepaid return postage for mailed ballots and a provision that ballots postmarked on or before Election Day be counted as long as they are received by the post-Election Day deadline for military and overseas ballots. We ask for a provision that return of absentee ballot applications as undeliverable is not a basis to challenge voters or remove them from the voter rolls.

And we want the voter registration deadline reduced from 20 days to 10 days before each election.
 
Please email your State Representative before Wednesday and ask them to support a strong bill for this fall’s elections.

Help Put Ranked Choice Voting on November Ballot
For Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) to be on the ballot Nov. 3, Voter Choice for Massachusetts, the RCV campaign, must submit a second round of 13,374 valid signatures by June 17. The Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that, given the difficulty of collecting signatures in person during this pandemic, voters can sign the petition electronically. If you did not sign the RCV petition in the fall or aren’t sure whether you did, please take a minute to sign the RCV petition electronically right now by clicking here. Then share this link with your friends and family-- sign.voterchoice2020.org. Encourage them to sign the petition and to pass the link along.  

Criminal Justice Reform Bills Need a Boost
Three criminal justice reform bills are out of the joint committee and now need to move out of Ways & Means Committees. 
Email your Representative to encourage the House Ways & Means Committee to bring these bills to the floor for a vote:
  • H.2047, the visitation rights bill for people in jail and prison, especially relevant now that visitors cannot physically visit
  • H.4607, the parole expansion bill, which would increase the size and competency of the parole board 
Email your Senator to encourage the Senate Ways & Means Committee to bring this bill out for a vote:
  • S.2662, the Senate visitation bill, similar to the House bill above. 

The Joint Committee on the Judiciary is still reviewing three bills that would directly impact incarceration during COVID-19, and your request to your legislators to contact that committee and report these bills out will help:
  • H.3420/S.825, the raise the age bill, would keep older teenagers out of the adult legal system 
  • H.4652, the decarceration bill, proposes targeted release of pre-trial and sentenced individuals who are medically vulnerable or do not pose a public safety risk to allow safe physical distancing for staff and individuals who remain incarcerated
  • H.1343/S.937, the treatment not imprisonment bill, prevents people with substance use disorder who are getting treated from being locked up just for relapsing 

Help with Questions for VOTE411
LWVMA is gearing up to produce the Voter Guide for the Sept. 1 primary election using the VOTE411 platform. The Voter Guide will contain information on all candidates running for state offices, including candidate profiles and Q&A. We need volunteers to help formulate questions for candidates to be published in the guide. If interested, contact Tanya Roy. The questions need to be finalized by the end of June.

Moderator Video Posted
An updated moderator training video has been posted on the LWVMA YouTube channel. The video is available for anyone who would like training or a refresher on the rules, or to learn about moderating in a virtual setting. LWVMA is offering small group training follow-up sessions via Zoom with role playing for those wanting to get more comfortable as moderators. Please contact Elizabeth Foster-Nolan if interested.

Check Your Community's Census Response Rate
You can track the 2020 Census response rate for your community at the Census Bureau’s interactive Response Rate map. Check to see if your community has a Complete Count Committee to collaborate with to ensure every household participates in the Census. 

Virtual Phone BanksHelp Get out the Count for the 2020 Census
The 2020 Census count and outreach to ensure a complete count in Massachusetts continues. You can help by volunteering to call residents of the lowest self-response communities to ask them to fill out the 2020 Census. MassCounts is conducting virtual phone banks through the end of June every Tuesday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Wednesday from 5-7 p.m., Thursday from 5-7 p.m., and Saturday from 1-3 p.m. to call residents of census tracts with the lowest self-response rates. You can sign up to join a virtual phone bank. You'll need a computer and a phone; a 15-20-minute training and a script are provided. Please note you need to sign up for each day you would like to phone bank.

LWVMA Asks for Action on Election Funding
Take action to protect our elections amid the threats presented by COVID-19. LWVUS needs your help asking Congress for $4 billion in elections assistance funding. While earlier estimations for this type of funding were set at $2 billion dollars, primary election postponements across states have created a need for greater funding. This funding will ensure that states are not compromising voters’ health or safety while administering elections and will allow voters to avail themselves of multiple voting options. 

Virtual Lobby Day with National Convention
As part of Convention 2020, LWVUS will be offering a virtual lobby day opportunity to delegates and League members around the country. Join this briefing Wednesday, June 17, at 3 p.m. to get details on how you can participate and engage lawmakers during this time! Register to join us.

Legislation Progress Update
Actions taken in April and May on bills we support.
Bills reported favorably out of committee:
H.150/ S.76 - An Act relative to the safety, dignity, and civil rights of persons experiencing homelessness
H.4622 - An Act to provide short-term relief for families in deep poverty
H.2047 - An Act to strengthen inmate visitation
S.1334 - An Act to reduce racial disparities in maternal health.
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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