This page, Mass. General Laws c.51 § 65, is offered by

Mass. General Laws c.51 § 65

Automatic voter registration (effective January 1, 2020)

Table of Contents

Updates

Added by St.2018, c.205, § 7, effective January 1, 2020.

(a)

For purposes of this section, the term “automatic voter registration” shall have the meaning assigned to it in section 42G½ and the term “registrars” or “registrars of voters” shall have the meaning assigned to it in section 1 of chapter 50.

(b)

The state secretary shall promulgate regulations relative to the administration of automatic voter registration, which shall be in addition to the regulations otherwise authorized by this chapter, and which shall include, but not be limited to, provisions relative to: (i) promoting greater participation of eligible voters in elections; (ii) increasing the completeness and accuracy of the register of voters; (iii) preventing erroneous disenfranchisement of eligible citizens; (iv) protecting ineligible voters from improperly being registered; (v) determining the extent to which automatic voter registration materials should be provided in languages other than English and Spanish, including, but not limited to, languages required under the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended; and (vi) specifying the manner of registration for address confidentiality program participants under section 2 of chapter 9A who interact with automatic voter registration agencies; and (vii) preventing voter registration fraud. 

(c)

 (1) Nothing in this section or in section 42G shall be construed to change the substantive qualifications of voters established by this chapter or the constitution.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed to interfere with the registrars’ duties under sections 37, 38, 47B, 48 and 49 to ensure that the names of persons who are ineligible to vote do not appear on the register of voters.

(3) Nothing in this section shall be construed to interfere with the right of any person to decline to register to vote for any reason.

(d)

(1) Upon receiving the electronic records described in section 42G½, the board of registrars or election commission shall determine whether the names of persons included in the electronic records belong to persons who meet the qualifications of a voter under section 1. The registrars shall notify each qualified person whose name appears in those records of the automatic voter registration process.

(2) If the registrars determine that the person whose name appears in the electronic records does not meet the qualifications of a voter under section 1, the registrars shall notify the person of the determination at the address included in the electronic record, unless that person has already declined to register to vote.

(3) The registrars shall notify each person under paragraph (1) of the person’s opportunity to: (i) decline to register to vote; or (ii) adopt a political party affiliation, in which case the person shall also sign an eligibility requirement acknowledgement and attestation. Such notification shall be provided in English and Spanish and any additional languages to be determined by the state secretary.

(4) If a person so notified does not decline to register to vote within 21 calendar days after the registrar issues the notification, the registrars shall add the person’s name and address to the register of voters.

(5) The registrars shall not include in the register of voters the name of a person who indicates in a signed writing that the person does not wish to be a registered voter.

(6) If the information transmitted under section 42G½ is for a person whose name is already included in the register of voters, and if the information indicates a subsequent change to the person’s name, address or gender marker, the registrars shall ensure that the register of voters is updated accordingly.

(7) Upon adding the name of a person to the register of voters under paragraph (4), the registrars shall send written notice, which may be sent electronically, in a form approved by the state secretary, to the registrars or equivalent officers of the place where the person was last registered as a voter. Upon receiving this notice, or a similar notice from another state including information from the Electronic Registration Information Center, Inc. under section 47C, the registrars shall immediately remove the person’s name from the register of voters.

(8) The state secretary’s office shall provide mandatory training for all registrars on the administration of the requirements enumerated in this subsection.

(e)

The state secretary shall ensure that information is provided to the registrars in as clear a manner as practicable, and automate the process to the extent practicable. The state secretary may develop electronic interfaces with automatic voter registration agencies under section 42G½ to carry out this section.

(f)

The state secretary shall make an annual report to the joint committee on election laws of the general court, which the secretary shall post on a public website. The annual report shall include the following information: (i) the number of voters newly registered to the statewide voter registration list updated by an automatic voter registration agency, broken down by agency; (ii) the total number of voter records on the statewide voter registration list updated because of records transferred by an automatic voter registration agency; and (iii) the number of persons who opted out of voter registration. The state secretary shall also study and include within the annual report recommendations to strengthen and clarify automatic voting requirements as they pertain to eligibility for voting in municipal, state and federal elections, so as to ensure to the maximum extent possible that the requirements are clear, easily understood and enforceable in an efficient manner. A report produced under this section shall exclude personal identifying information.

(g)

Nothing in this section shall preclude a person who has previously declined to register to vote from subsequently registering to vote.

(h)

The state secretary shall ensure that election officials shall not provide the record of any person who has opted out of voter registration, in whole or in part, to any third party and shall establish standards and procedures to safeguard the privacy and security of the information used and obtained pursuant to this section.

(i)

A person who is not eligible to vote and who becomes registered under this provision shall not be found on that basis to have made a false claim to citizenship or to have committed an act involving moral turpitude, unless such person affirmatively asserts that the person is a citizen of the United States. Where a person who is not eligible to vote becomes registered under this provision without affirmatively accepting registration, that person’s voter registration shall be considered to have been effected with official authorization and at no fault of the person so registered. 

(j)

No person may use the statewide voter registration list to attempt to determine the citizenship status of any person for any purpose other than voter registration, election administration or the enforcement of laws against election crimes. No information relating to a person’s declination to supply information for voter registration purposes at a source may be disclosed to the public, used to discriminate against that person or used for any purpose other than voter registration, election administration or the enforcement of laws against election crimes.

Contact

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Online

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Address

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2 Center Plaza
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Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: May 21, 2019
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