Watertown Rep. Lawn Co-Sponsors Bill to Ensure a Safe 2020 Election

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State Rep. John Lawn of Watertown, who represents the 10th Middlesex District.

State Rep. John Lawn of Watertown, who represents the 10th Middlesex District.

Watertown State Rep. John Lawn is lead co-sponsor for a bill that would call for the state to mail absentee ballots to all voters, would require towns to take safety precautions during early voting and extends the deadline for accepting absentee ballots.

The bill, HD.5075, is called “An Act ensuring safe and participatory 2020 state elections in response to COVID-19.” Lawn, who is co-chair of the the Joint Committee on Election Laws, filed the bill with Second Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Michal Moran, of Boston, on Wednesday.

In an announcement about the bill from Common Cause Massachusetts, Lawn said:

“COVID-19 presents an unprecedented challenge to our election administration. I look forward to working together with advocates and my colleagues to ensure that all Massachusetts voters have the ability to express their freedom to vote this election cycle. This Bill will provide for options to vote by mail, expand early voting and also provide the opportunity to vote at their local polling locations. We will also work to provide election day workers and voters to do this in the safest environment possible.”

Under the bill, the Secretary of State will mail absentee ballots to all voters at their registered home address. Postage would be pre-paid for the return envelope for the ballots.

The bill also calls for city or town clerk of each community to provide a secure, locked dropbox outside the building where the clerk’s office is located where voters can return the absentee ballots. The ballots will be mailed out in all the languages required by the state. The Secretary of State would also be required to create and internet portal where people can register to get an absentee ballot.

The bill proposes that voters who do not receive a ballot from the Secretary of State can still apply for an absentee ballot from the city or town clerk, as they would normally.

For early voting, the bill calls for a set of regulations to be created to assure safety of voters and poll workers during early voting.

The bill reads: “The state secretary, after consulting the department of public health, shall adopt regulations requiring public health safeguards at early voting sites and polling places, including required distancing of voters and election officers, frequent use of sanitizers, appropriate clothing, and use of marking pens.”

For the Nov. 3 election only, the bill changes the rules for accepting absentee ballots. Normally, ballots must be received by the time polls close on election day. The bill calls for accepting ballots until Nov. 13, as long as they are mailed by Nov. 3.

Normally, absentee ballots are scanned in at the polling places on election day. The bill would allow clerks to scan them in at any time at the clerk’s office.

Another part of the bill would allow clerks to have just one voter list at a polling location, so that people do not have to both check in and check out after voting.

See the text of the bill by clicking here.

The filing of the bill is just the first step in the Legislature’s long process before it can become a law. Bills in the Mass. Legislature must first be considered and recommended by a joint committee. Then it must go through three readings, during which it goes to committees of the House and the Senate, where the bill is debated and can be amended. If successful the bill then goes to a joint committee of both chambers where differences in the House and Senate versions are discussed. A version agreeable to both sides is approved and, finally, the governor must sign the bill to make it a law.

7 thoughts on “Watertown Rep. Lawn Co-Sponsors Bill to Ensure a Safe 2020 Election

  1. Congratulations, Representative Lawn and co sponsor Rep Hecht. We support mail in balloting. A question: There is no mention of tracking numbers for each ballot. In the State of Washington which now does only mail balloting, each ballot is tracked and the voter can look on line to see if the ballot is received and counted. We also like that the Towns can scan paper ballots for counting while keeping them in the Town Hall–this seems to offer a paper trail and the voter can be assured as much as possible that the ballot was counted by the state.
    In the future I would like to see same day registration and no waiting period.
    Thank you for this effort. I hope we can offer support when the bill reaches committee hearings.
    Barbara R

  2. The legislation is rife with opportunities for voter fraud. The Voter Roles have tons of dead people on them because there is no current mechanism that automatically purges the names as soon as death certificate is issued. So all these ballots get mailed out.. people can vote multiple times, people that aren’t eligible to vote will vote. This is totally unacceptable. If people want absentee ballots because they don’t want to risk voting under the current circumstances, they can apply and receive them. But sending out ballots to every registered voter is a completely absurd and insane proposal, unless the intent to promote voter fraud, or propose such an extreme measure, that other bad measures will be considered reasonable. And that of course is a typical move .

    But if people go out an shop and stand in line every week at Shaw’s, Market Basket, or whatnot, they can go vote, if they want to vote. We don’t need wide spread absentee voter fraud to facilitate Democrat Voter Fraud.

    • Democrat Voter Fraud? John, you are hallucinating again. Please provide proof of your allegations. It always seems that Republicans like yourself want to limit people’s ability to vote. Why is that?

      I have confidence that the Legislature will come up with a reasonable and safe voting scheme for November. And if anyone has PROOF of fraud, please do come forward with it for the sake of us all. But unsubstantiated accusations are worthless.

  3. I do not agree with mail in voting. Judicial Watch has exposed huge voter fraud in CA and a few other states and has filed suits to have illegitimate names removed from the voting roles. A ballot could be delivered to the wrong address. (I have received mail meant for other people and have personally delivered it to them. Some of my mail has been delivered to a wrong address and was delayed in getting to me.) If the ballots get in the wrong hands, there is no way to prevent someone from destroying it or submitting it with their preference. I believe Watertown is an honest town, but I would not put my faith in every other city or town in the Commonwealth. Sadly, the political divide is too strong these days. I suggest that if there is still a big concern about the virus in the fall that the federal government possibly pass a one-time bill allowing voting over perhaps a two or three-day period so that the voting can be spread out and avoid large lines and gatherings. I am not in favor of same day registration. In MA we have too many students who are here for a while and then move back home. We have no way of knowing if they are still registered in their home state or city and if they submitted absentee ballots there and then vote again here. People who are really serious about voting should be able to plan ahead and register at least 2 weeks to 30 days ahead so that records can be checked. I also believe in a voter ID. We need picture IDs for every other important transaction and voting should not be an exception. I prefer seeing my ballot scanned into the machine while I’m there. Voting is too important to treat it casually.

    • Judicial Watch is hardly a credible source. It seems to exist largely to smear Democrats and deny science. Among other things it spread the rumor that the Clintons had assassinated Vince Foster. Most of its lawsuits have been dismissed as baseless.

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