Showing posts with label voting rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label voting rights. Show all posts

Saturday, April 30, 2022

MA Senate to Debate Work and Family Mobility Act Next Thursday (5/05/22)

Senate to Debate Work and Family Mobility Act Next Thursday

The Massachusetts State Senate announced plans today (4/28/22) to debate An Act Relative to Work and Family Mobility at a formal session next Thursday, May 5, 2022. The Work and Family Mobility Act, filed by Senators Brendan Crighton and Adam Gomez, would allow Massachusetts residents who lack federal immigration status to apply for a Massachusetts standard driver's license, the non-REAL ID license. 

The bill, which received a favorable report from the Senate Committee on Rules earlier today, has received widespread support from members of the law enforcement community, advocacy groups, and members of the immigrant community. It proposes strict identity documentation criteria, asking for applicants to present two valid, unexpired identity documents. It makes no change to existing law requiring that all driver's license applicants prove that they live in the Commonwealth. The bill advanced by the Senate Committee on Rules is nearly identical to the version that previously passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.

"As the granddaughter of immigrants, I have been a longtime supporter of allowing everyone, regardless of immigration status, to safely get to work and school, access health care, and participate in the lives of their communities, and so I am pleased to see this bill move forward today," stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "All our residents and their families deserve to feel safe, and driver's licenses for qualified individuals is good for our economy, our families, and public safety. I'd like to thank Senators Crighton, Gomez and Lovely for their efforts to push this bill forward."

"I am proud to work with my Senate colleagues to favorably move the Work and Family Mobility Act out of the Senate Committee on Rules today," said State Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). "This legislation will improve public safety on our roadways and provide accessibility for all Massachusetts residents. Thank you, Senate President Spilka and Senators Crighton and Gomez for your leadership on this bill."

"The Work and Family Mobility Act will make our roads safer and, just as importantly, make the lives of more than 185,000 Massachusetts immigrants without status easier by allowing them to earn a standard driver's license," said State Senator Brendan P. Crighton (D-Lynn). "In the absence of a robust regional public transportation system, it is impossible for many Massachusetts residents to get through their day without the use of a car. No one should fear detention or deportation over essential everyday tasks such as getting to work, school, doctor's appointments and grocery stores. It is time for Massachusetts to join the 16 other states who have passed this common-sense legislation."

"This important piece of legislation, which is long overdue, has received widespread support from law enforcement officials, municipal leaders, and advocacy organizations across our state," said State Senator Adam Gomez (D-Springfield). "These people are our neighbors, our friends, and our fellow community members. It's past time that we provide them with the ability to have reliable and accessible transportation where they don't have to fear deportation or separation from their families. This legislation gives undocumented residents the same opportunities that their documented counterparts may take for granted — the ability to drive freely across our state, find work in another community, drive their kids to school, run errands for their partner — not burdened with the worry that they may have negative interactions with law enforcement. That's what happens when people have access to reliable transportation: they can thrive, serve their communities, and succeed."

"There is a reason so many law enforcement leaders support this legislation, including a majority of my fellow sheriffs," said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian. "I first spoke in favor of this issue as a state representative over 20 years ago. This bill would not only improve public safety by increasing the number of properly identified and insured motorists; but just as critically it will improve a family's ability to get to medical appointments, to the grocery store, and to their kids' school activities. I commend Senate President Spilka, Senators Brendan Crighton and Adam Gomez, as well as the numerous legislators and advocates who have continued to support this vital issue."

In a formal statement, the leaders of the organizations co-chairing the Driving Families Forward Coalition, Brazilian Worker Center Executive Director Lenita Reason and 32BJ SEIU Executive Vice President Roxana Rivera said, "As co-chairs of the Driving Families Forward Coalition, made up of over 270 endorsers including business associations, labor unions, immigrant advocates, faith groups and many more supporting the Work and Family Mobility Act, we are overjoyed that the bill will be coming before a historic Senate vote. We extend our gratitude to Senate President Spilka, Senator Lovely, Chair of the Senate Committee on Rules and our bill lead sponsors, Senator Crighton, and Senator Gomez for their leadership in promoting everyone's safety in the Commonwealth by moving the bill through the legislative process. This includes law enforcement officials who need to know drivers' identities, Massachusetts motorists who benefit when every driver is tested and insured, and, of course, the diverse immigrant communities across the state who need to access doctor's offices, schools, and jobs. Many immigrants' lives would be transformed by this bill, and everyone in Massachusetts would have safer and more secure roads for it."

The legislation also includes layered protection for driver information, prohibiting the Massachusetts RMV from keeping records of citizenship or immigration status for standard license holders and applicants. Safeguards are also put in place for voting, above and beyond the extensive existing protections, directing the Registry of Motor Vehicles and Secretary of State to establish procedures to ensure that drivers without lawful immigration status are not erroneously registered to vote.

MA Senate to Debate Work and Family Mobility Act Next Thursday (5/05/22)
MA Senate to Debate Work and Family Mobility Act Next Thursday (5/05/22)

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Senator Becca Rausch’s Mid-Session Beacon Hill Review

As your voice and advocate in the State Senate, I am very proud to share several 2021 accomplishments, including a robust COVID-19 response, billions of dollars invested into our communities, and the advancement of critically needed reforms through the legislative process on Beacon Hill.

Safety for You and Your Family: My top priority has been advocating for measures that keep you and your family safe and stable throughout this public health crisis. Last year alone, my team and I helped more than 500 constituents access government benefits and supports, including unemployment assistance and food security. I also hosted monthly virtual office hours, senior coffees, and two youth legislative forums to remain accessible to constituents through the ups and downs of this pandemic.   

In addition to crafting and advocating for school masking legislation and the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Act, I also worked in partnership with public health experts, community organizations, and my legislative colleagues to pressure the Baker Administration to implement policies to keep our communities safe and local economy afloat through this crisis. Our achievements included universal masking in all K-12 schools, paid time off for families and caregivers taking children to COVID-19 vaccination appointments, implementing a COVID vaccine pre-registration system for mass vaccination sites, and delivering a multi-pronged COVID-19 Action Plan to the Governor.

Safety during these difficult times also means addressing violence and discrimination. Amid the rise of conspiracy theories and disinformation about vaccines and COVID-19, we have also seen an alarming spike in antisemitism, racism, and xenophobia on social media, in our public schools, and from elected officials. It is our collective responsibility to call out hate and injustice whenever we see it. I collaborated with Robert Trestan, Executive Director of ADL New England, to pen a GBH commentary piece explaining the rise in antisemitism within the antivax movement here in Massachusetts and across our nation. As your State Senator, I have publicly condemned abject acts of hate, offered to engage in constructive dialogue in communities, secured tens of thousands of dollars to fund diversity, equity, and inclusion work in our district, and voted to support the Genocide Education Act, now law, which requires that genocide education be taught in Massachusetts public schools before the end of high school. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not the only pandemic we’re up against.

Funding Our Communities’ Recovery: The Legislature passed a $4 billion bill to allocate federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to equitably invest in our continued recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. This bill delivers broad spectrum supports for our communities’ health, including mental and behavioral health, housing security, our environment, and workforce development. I secured numerous amendments to support our district and the Commonwealth at large, including targeted funding to assist women re-entering the workforce, providing post-traumatic stress care for medical personnel, and $1,000,000 in investments for local housing, transportation, water infrastructure, and other projects in our district.

I secured several victories in the FY 2022 budget as well, including $500,000 for local projects across our district, a pilot program for a statewide youth mental health support text line, funding for the Department of Public Health to hire personnel with expertise in combatting vaccine hesitancy, and funding for New Hope’s new domestic violence shelter and an updated facility for the Attleboro Center for Children.

Legislative Victories: The gears of the legislative process are turning, and many bills are moving through their respective committees. Committees must take action on every timely filed bill by February 2, 2022, so we can expect an increase in floor votes and legislation headed to the governor’s desk in the coming months.

My Senate colleagues and I have already advanced some game-changing bills. In October, we passed comprehensive election reform legislation, strengthened by adoption of several amendments I filed. The bill provides election day voter registration, permanent mail-in voting, improved jail-based voting access, and upgrades to our elections infrastructure. My amendment work also elevated issues still left to address, like ballot drop box ratios and paid time off for voting. We also passed the Mental Health ABC Act to improve access to culturally competent care, support and boost our Commonwealth’s mental health care workforce, reduce barriers to emergency treatment, and more. This month, we again passed a bill to make government-issued IDs more accessible to people experiencing homelessness to facilitate access to critically needed services across our Commonwealth. These bills now await action by the House.  

As Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (ENRA), I also worked to pass the law that improves conditions for egg-laying hens while keeping our egg supply available and affordable.  

Moving Forward: There is still so much work to be done. This session I filed more than 40 bills designed to advance election reform, good governance, public health, reproductive justice, climate action, and intersectional justice and equity. This month, my lead climate action legislation cleared the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, and I anticipate more favorable reports on my bills in the coming weeks. My team and I continue working hard on your behalf to shepherd these bills through the legislative process.  

It is my great honor to represent the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District in the Massachusetts State Senate, and I’ll continue putting my proven leadership to work for you. Please reach out to me if you need assistance, have thoughts on policy, or want to check in. My office phone number is 617-722-1555, my email is becca.rausch@masenate.gov, and you can sign up for a personal office hours appointment at beccarauschma.com/office-hours. I also invite you to join me for my district-wide virtual town hall conversation on Monday, January 24 at 7 PM (sign up at www.beccarauschma.com/town-hall).

As we begin 2022, I wish you and your loved ones strength, health, resilience, and joy. I look forward to everything we will accomplish together this year.  

Senator Becca Rausch represents the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District, comprised of Attleboro, Franklin, Millis, Natick, Needham, Norfolk, North Attleborough, Plainville, Sherborn, Wayland, Wellesley, and Wrentham. Senator Rausch serves as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture and the Senate Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. 

Senator Rausch to host Virtual Town Hall - Jan 24, 2022 - Register now to participate!
Senator Rausch to host Virtual Town Hall - Jan 24, 2022 - Register now to participate!

Sunday, January 9, 2022

FM #691 - January 6 Vigil (on the Town Common) - 01/06/22 (audio)

FM #691 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 691 in the series. 


This session of the radio show shares the audio recording of the Jan 6 VIgil held on Thursday, Jan 6, 2022 on the Franklin Town Common. The vigil was organized by the Committee to Protect Our Democracy (CPOD), a subgroup of the Franklin Democratic Town Committee, as part of remembrances scheduled across the country.  


The master of ceremony Justin Bates introduces all the speakers.


The recording of the vigil runs about 45 minutes.  Audio file -> https://franklin-ma-matters.captivate.fm/episode/fm-691-jan-6-vigil-01-06-22


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The text of the remarks by State Representative Jeff Roy can be found ->

https://jeffreyroy.com/2022/01/07/remarks-at-jan-6-vigil-in-franklin/


Milford Daily News/Wicked Local coverage of the event can be found -> 

https://www.wickedlocal.com/story/country-gazette/2022/01/07/calls-action-franklin-vigil-reflects-capitol-attack/9135123002/

Photos of the event can be found in one album ->   https://photos.app.goo.gl/T7zBkexGeqhjZqmw5

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We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio (wfpr.fm) or 102.9 on the Franklin area radio dial.  


This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.

 

How can you help?

  • If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors

  • If you don't like something here, please let me know


Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.


For additional information, please visit Franklinmatters.org/ or www.franklin.news/

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com


The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana"  c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission.


I hope you enjoy!


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You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"


Rep Roy giving his remarks at the January 6 Vigil (on the Town Common)
Rep Roy giving his remarks at the January 6 Vigil (on the Town Common)

Saturday, January 8, 2022

State Representative Jeffrey N. Roy: Remarks at Jan 6 vigil in Franklin

Jeffrey N. Roy (@jeffroy) tweeted on Fri, Jan 07, 2022:
"Remarks at Jan. 6 vigil in Franklin https://t.co/IDvOlgjVtS"
Shared from Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeffroy/status/1479418690005348353

"As Senator Rausch indicated, our day in the Massachusetts Legislature started with finishing the work of the 191st General Court on January 5, 2021.

We passed multiple pieces of legislation on the final day of the session. This work included wide-ranging pieces of legislation, including one early item that was a resolution for Franklin’s Frank Liotta, on the occasion of his 90th birthday. Another piece that passed around 2 AM was a law I had been working on for two years on the prevention of campus sexual violence.

We worked until around 5:00 AM on January 6, and I finally went to bed exhausted to get some sleep."

Continue reading Rep Roy's remarks here ->     https://jeffreyroy.com/2022/01/07/remarks-at-jan-6-vigil-in-franklin/

Audio of the event will be ready for publication and sharing this weekend. Franklin TV also captured a video recording. When that is ready for airing, I'll share the schedule.

State Representative Jeffrey N. Roy: Remarks at Jan 6 vigil in Franklin
State Representative Jeffrey N. Roy: Remarks at Jan 6 vigil in Franklin

Milford Daily News/Wicked Local Franklin coverage

Sunday, December 26, 2021

How the Media Covered Voting Rights in 2020


M+R's Media Relations team is rounding out its 2021 Mediamarks Labs series focused on better understanding communication trends from 2020 and planning for the future. Today: media coverage on voting rights, what stories rose to the top, and how people engaged with that coverage.  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 
M+RFree advice for nonprofits
How the Media Covered Voting Rights in 2020
By Michelle Blundell and Aki Camargo  |  Dec 23, 2021  |  Tags: elections media mediamarks

Read time: 8 minutes

Elections are big news in any year. In 2020, the election—and just as important, the stories told about the election—took on exceptional significance.

First there were stories of the historic voter turnout, and people forced to line up for hours across the country to cast their vote. Then came the false cries of fraud and a refusal to accept the election results as legitimate.

Now we're seeing many Republican-dominated state legislatures advance restrictive and often racist measures that take power away from people to cast their vote. Protecting our fundamental right to vote will only grow more urgent in the months ahead, particularly in advance of the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential election. 

That's why our team is rounding out our 2021 Mediamarks Labs series by taking a close look at the trends in last year's coverage of voting rights—specifically the battle to protect, expand and realize every American's right to vote. 

As always with this series, the hope is that communications professionals will keep the lessons of how coverage of the issue of voting rights shifted in 2020 in mind when charting a course for the future, especially as 2022 midterms fast approach.

Community stories trickled up to national attention

From absurdly long voting lines, to the USPS removing mail collection boxes for mail-in ballots, voter suppression was rampant in 2020. Stories that honed in on a state's efforts to block our freedom to vote had people paying attention, driving up engagement on social channels.

For example, Mother Jones' investigative story on Kentucky's drastic reduction of polling places in predominantly Black neighborhoods was shared widely on Facebook (320,000+ shares). Similarly, CNN's story on USPS' efforts to remove mail collection boxes in communities across the country was among the top 5 voting rights stories, when looking at the number of Facebook shares.

What's more, of the top 20 national stories on voting rights shared on Facebook, more than a quarter were dedicated to looking at voter-related issues in our communities. 

Voting rights issues affect the whole nation, but first and foremost, they start in our communities. These issues are as much a state issue as they are a federal issue. And it's critically important to tell these stories. It helps us better understand complex words like "voter suppression" and see the real, harmful impacts of politicians and billionaires who work to actively block the freedom to vote for Black, Brown, Indigenous people and many other important communities who deserve equal access to the ballot box. 

And together, amplifying the stories of voters and activists on the ground is crucial to understanding the bigger picture of voter suppression and the fight for voting rights nationwide. 

Big names drove big coverage 

Some of the most shared articles related to voting rights on social media platforms (such as Twitter and Facebook) featured public figures like Stacey Abrams, Mark Zuckerburg, and late U.S. Representative John Lewis, and celebrities like LeBron James. 

While all of these figures played a different role in the realm of elections and voting, the historic actions they took earned them meaningful feature stories in media outlets in the lead up to and after the election.

A majority of the outlets we looked at, including ones like Rolling Stone and The Guardian, dedicated in-depth coverage to looking at the historic efforts of people like Lewis and Abrams, and what those efforts meant for today's elections. These stories also made clear the long way we still have to go in ensuring all Americans have an equal say in who's elected to make decisions about issues that impact our lives.

Celebrity activism in voting rights was at a high, and the media followed. More than a quarter of the top 20 stories shared on social media were a result of a high profile or celebrity voice speaking out on voting rights. Specifically, two of the top 20 articles with the most Facebook shares focused on LeBron James' important efforts to advance the right to vote for people who are formerly incarcerated.

It's no surprise audiences gravitate towards stories that feature a well-known figure. And whether it's a celebrity or politician, readers tend to contextualize their understanding of a given issue through key influencers or voices that dominate such a field. 

"Unexpected" big-name voices like LeBron James can help stoke that curiosity even more. In our minds, that's a good thing. The more people following (and hopefully engaging with) an issue that impacts every aspect of our lives—from the quality of our schools and roads in our communities, to our access to healthcare and good jobs—only makes our democracy stronger.

Lifestyle outlets continue to engage in politics

Outlets like Vogue, Teen Vogue, and Vanity Fair were once considered lifestyle-only publications, catering to an audience that enjoyed light-hearted content. But in the last several years, we've continued to see a real shift and investment at lifestyle publications in looking at hard news that impacts our lives—from voting rights and immigrant rights to reproductive health. In 2020 alone, the lifestyle outlets we looked at in Mediamarks, which included just a small sampling of these outlets, dedicated a total of 114 articles to issues on voting rights.  

Vogue's feature story on Stacey Abrams' leadership and advocacy to fight for equal access to the ballot box, which was among the top 20 articles shared on social media, was a perfect example of putting voting rights and political news front and center:

Audiences of lifestyle outlets are increasingly engaged in both the political and social worlds. The personal is political, and one does not have to be a policy wonk to engage with what's happening in the world. 

Looking ahead as nonprofits pitch these outlets in the future, honing in on how lifestyle, gender, and reproductive health impact voting rights will be crucial. Connecting the dots between the personal and political for readers will ensure they understand how voting rights are woven into all aspects of their lives—and will hopefully spur even more activism and engagement.

The media shined a light on under-reported communities

While it was disappointing to see unfounded claims of election fraud become a big part of the narrative around the 2020 election, a bright spot was the coverage dedicated to elevating often under-reported communities—from individuals who are formerly incarcerated, to tribal communities—and their intersection with key issues like voting rights. These stories often drew attention to the barriers that marginalized communities still face when it comes to accessing the ballot box. 

In our work with the Declaration for American Democracy—a coalition of 240+ organizations who have all come together to fight for the freedom to vote—we saw firsthand the attention reporters were paying to lifting up the voices of under-reported communities. It helped contribute to the urgency around needed state-level reforms to ensure all people could easily and safely vote during a pandemic, and around legislation like the now-called Freedom to Vote Act, which would transform our democracy into one that is truly of, by, and for the people.

National outlets such as Teen Vogue, The New Republic and TIME not only dedicated meaningful coverage to Native communities and the unique challenges they face when it comes to voting rights, but also highlighted the important role they play in critical elections across the country.


We saw similar trends of robust national and local coverage of individuals who are formerly incarcerated, particularly in the Florida fight to restore critical voting rights to people with felonies. 

While in the past these have been treated like niche issues, they have far-reaching implications for many important communities and elections. Broadening their coverage is incredibly important in order to make meaningful change. 

Unfortunately, there's still a long way to go in elevating these communities even further as well as the language the media uses when talking about marginalized communities. With continued education with reporters, the hope is that there can be a stronger shift towards person-first language, moving away from words like "felons," which can be dehumanizing, and instead towards language like "people who are formerly incarcerated" that center and respect people and protect their dignity. (Here's a resource we find particularly helpful, from our friends at the Vera Institute of Justice.)

As the midterms fast approach, we have the opportunity to build on the 2020 coverage that honed in on the challenges many Americans still face to exercising our voting rights, but also celebrated great wins like historic voter turnout and lifted up more voices of Black, Brown, and Native voters, among other marginalized communities. The hope is that we only go up from here, and the voices and stories we put in front of the media to lift up will continue to contribute as we work towards a democracy that gives an equal voice to all of us. Onward!

*A quick word about methodology: We use Muck Rack for a lot of our work at M+R, and that includes Mediamarks. The data in this post is based on a comprehensive Muck Rack search to pull media hit data aligned with our search terms from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

We pulled articles from a universe of 100 outlets. To choose the outlet pool, we gathered the outlets that have higher Unique Visitors per Month (UVM) and Mozrank scores. They are a mix of regional, national, and international newspapers, magazines, broadcast channels, digital news sites, and wires.


When Michelle isn't driving communications strategies to secure press for nonprofits, you can find her touring the wineries and breweries of Virginia. Michelle can be reached at mblundell@mrss.com.

Related Links:

 

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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

We Did It For You! Women's Journey Through History = Dec 14, 7 PM

 There was a time when women couldn’t have jobs and had no voting rights. Women were property passed from father to husband. High-school student Melanie must learn how things changed.

We Did It For You! Women's Journey Through History is the story of how women got their rights in America, told by the women who were there. It is an entertaining and quick tour through the journey, starting with the struggle women had in the 17th century Puritan Revolution through to our 21st century empowered women politicians.

This presentation is a brand new filmed version of We Did It For You! It has many surprises in it for those who have seen the staged version. Stay around afterwards for a Q&A with the filmmakers.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Franklin Local Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency. 

To view the program, please register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_QMpz3rizSxmaOOCcZu0ftg . 

For more information, please visit https://www.wediditforyou.org/ .


We Did It For You! Women's Journey Through History = Dec 14, 7 PM
We Did It For You! Women's Journey Through History = Dec 14, 7 PM

Thursday, November 4, 2021

“People with disabilities continue to face barriers to voting"

Picked up on a Twitter thread about voting issues disabled folks on Tuesday. Yes, since it was election day, and voting was in progress, the thread was timely.

  • Hi, I’m a disabled voter in Massachusetts - my disability is multifaceted, but one physical presentation is loss of fine motor skill, or the ability to write. I get by in the world thanks to technology. Here are obstacles I and other disabled voters face in Massachusetts
  • I’m a busy parent, and I didn’t fill out the application for an absentee ballot by October 13th this year Obstacle 1 - disabled people must be vigilant about dates that are sometimes hard to find in fine print on websites
  • Obstacle 2 - disabled people must fill out a form (which can be done electronically, with one exception - more on that in a sec), And get it back to the their local election office on time JUST to receive a ballot.
  • Obstacle 3 - that signature. Even though most cities and towns allow for electronic submission and typed answers into the form, MA requires that everyone must provide a  “wet” signature (lol ew ). For me, this is the real obstacle.
  • Alt text for above image: Picture of a text heavy form with the following highlighted: sign your application with a “wet” signature. Application signed with a mouse, stylus, or finger are also acceptable; typed signatures are not.
  • My signature today is legible, however it is wildly different than it looked 18 months ago. The loss of my writing is something I’ve had to grieve, and the state of MA tells me: “Typed Signatures are not acceptable,” right there on the website! Not. Acceptable.
  • Obstacle 4 - We, the disabled voters of MA, must then fill out our paper ballots, sign them, get them into envelopes (no easy task), and send back in time for them to be counted. We are expressly prohibited from returning a ballot to our polling place on Election Day.
  • Text for this image: another text heavy document with the following highlighted: Once you receive your ballot, please return as soon as possible to ensure that it arrives in time to be counted. Ballots CANNOT be returned to the polling location on Election Day.
  • OK so there are the big four obstacles outlined by the state - for me, it’s something I can overcome; I will go to the polls, and I’ll cast a ballot.  I am extremely lucky, and one more MS relapse could take these options away from me.
  • But I did some more research, and it looks like The city of Boston has amazing accessibility tools!  https://www.boston.gov/news/accessible-voting-announced-ahead-november-2-municipal-election 
  • Everything can be completed online, even down to the vote itself, including that pesky signature! In Boston the language is changed to, voters may sign electronically. I was so thrilled to see this happening in Boston!
  • But something was confusing on the website. Why are these accessibility tools only Valid through 2025? And then it hit me. The city of Boston provides excellent accessibility for voting because it was sued by several disability rights groups for violating article 2 of the ADA.
  • None of these wonderful tools were given to disabled voters; disabled voters fought, and won, the right to vote without the significant obstacles I outlined above.
  • So, we have a lot of work to do Massachusetts. When you head to the polls today, try to notice how many obstacles you encounter along the way. And when you get home, check out the amazing work of @BostonCIL and @ACBofMA and @DLCMA, Who fought and won.   
  • Sorry adding the place where you can find all the legal info about voting in Boston. Photo is of text heavy legal document that is also available on the link attached. thank you for reading!  https://www.dlc-ma.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/BAV-Settlement-Agreement-9.8.2021-fully-executed.pdf 


Coincidentally, I found in my inbox on Tuesday that NIST is looking for input and comment to address this disability issue nationally: "NIST Draft Publication Addresses Removing Barriers for Voters With Disabilities" https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2021/10/nist-draft-publication-addresses-removing-barriers-voters-disabilities


Direct link to draft out for comment -> https://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/SpecialPublications/NIST.SP.1273-draft.pdf 


The chapter headings for the draft are shown as follows:

2. SYSTEMIC BARRIERS TO AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR VOTING ACCESSIBILITY

3. VOTER REGISTRATION AND THE NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FORM

4. VOTING BY MAIL

5. VOTER TECHNOLOGY

6. POLLING LOCATIONS

7. POLL WORKER TRAINING


I heartily encourage reading and submitting comments as appropriate. Together the process needs to work for all of us.


Full twitter thread can be found here (I copied the text and links but not the emoticons...)  https://twitter.com/Moms4Markey/status/1455612963327459329

“People with disabilities continue to face barriers to voting"
“People with disabilities continue to face barriers to voting"


Thursday, October 7, 2021

MA Senate Passes Landmark Voting Reform Legislation


 

 Senate Passes Landmark Voting Reform Legislation

Bill makes vote-by-mail permanent, expands early voting options, implements same-day voter registration, and ushers in other groundbreaking election reforms   

Today (10/06/21) , the Massachusetts State Senate passed S.2545, An Act fostering voter opportunities, trust, equity and security (the VOTES Act). This comprehensive voting reform bill permanently codifies the popular mail-in and early voting options used in Massachusetts in 2020. The bill would also enact same-day voter registration, increase ballot access for service members serving overseas, and make a series of other improvements to the Commonwealth's election administration process. 

"I am incredibly proud of the Senate's work on the VOTES Act, which will not only protect but expand voting access in the Commonwealth," stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "The provisions contained within this bill, including same-day voter registration, early voting, and permanent vote-by-mail will make it much easier to vote in Massachusetts—which is especially important for those individuals and communities that have struggled to vote or who have been disenfranchised in the past. I am excited to see this bill signed into law so that all of our citizens will have expanded access to voting, our most sacred right as Americans. I'd like to thank Senate Majority Leader Creem, Senate Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues, Election Laws Committee Chair Finegold and all of the voting rights advocates for their incredible work on this bill."

"Our democracy works best when we empower all eligible citizens to vote," said Senate Majority Leader Cindy Creem (D. Newton). "The VOTES Act makes it easier than ever for Massachusetts residents to register and cast a ballot, while also ensuring that we maintain an efficient and secure election process. During a moment when voting rights are under threat across the country, I'm proud that the Senate has voted to expand access to the ballot box."

"After thoughtful debate on the floor of the Senate, I am thrilled that we have passed this landmark legislation to make voting more accessible than ever for all citizens of Massachusetts," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways & Means. "I am proud of the collective effort of this body to improve the bill through the amendment process to ensure safe and secure access to the ballot box. Thank you to Senate President Spilka for her continued leadership, Senators Creem and Finegold for their persistent advocacy and commitment to this issue, and to all my Senate colleagues for engaging in a process that has further strengthened the right to vote in the Commonwealth."

"This landmark election reform bill will empower voters and strengthen our democracy," said Senator Barry Finegold (D - Andover), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Election Laws. "People have fought and died for the right to vote. Such a hard-earned right is sacred, and we must protect it. It is now time to build on the progress we have already made and enact long-lasting voting reforms. The Senate's proposed legislation will move our election system into the modern era and help make sure that every voter can exercise their fundamental right to vote. The votes and the voices of the people of Massachusetts matter. Let's make them heard."

Responding to trends in voting and building off previous actions taken by the Legislature, the VOTES Act contains the following key provisions: 

Same-Day Voter Registration

  • Individuals would be able to register to vote during early voting periods or on the day of a primary or election. 
  • Twenty other states and the District of Columbia already use same-day registration. 

Early Voting In-Person 

  • The bill would require two weeks (including two weekends) of early voting in-person for biennial state elections and any municipal elections held on the same day. 
  • The bill would require one week (including one weekend) of early voting in-person for a presidential or state primary and any municipal elections held on the same day.
  • The bill would allow municipalities to opt-in to early voting in-person for any municipal election not held concurrently with another election. 

Permanent No-Excuse Mail-In Voting 

  • The bill would require the Secretary of the Commonwealth to send out mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters on July 15 of every even-numbered year; the Secretary of the Commonwealth would have the option to include these applications as part of mailings already required to be sent by the Secretary.
  • As in 2020, postage would be guaranteed for mail-in ballot applications and ballots. 
  • As in 2020, mail-in ballots would be accepted for a biennial state election if mailed on or by election day and received by 5PM on the third day after the election. 

Additional Flexibility For Local Officials

  • The bill would give municipalities the option to set up secure drop boxes for mail-in ballots. 
  • The bill would allow election officials to pre-process mail-in and early voting ballots in advance of Election Day.
  • The bill would give municipalities discretion as to the use of a check-out list at a polling location. 

Accommodations For People With Disabilities

  • The bill would allow a voter with disabilities to request accommodations from the Secretary of the Commonwealth to vote by mail for state elections.
  • Accommodations would include: electronic and accessible instructions, ballot application, ballot, and a voter affidavit that can be submitted electronically.

Jail-Based Voting Reforms 

  • The bill would help ensure that individuals who are incarcerated who are currently eligible to vote are provided with voting information and materials to exercise their right to vote in every state primary and election. 
  • The bill would require correctional facilities to display and distribute information about voting rights and procedures, as prepared by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
  • The bill would require facilities to assist individuals who are incarcerated in registering, applying for and returning mail ballots.
  • Through inclusion of an amendment, the bill would ensure that individuals who are incarcerated are properly notified of their right to vote upon release and given the opportunity fill out a voter registration form

Joining the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) 

  • The bill would require the Secretary of the Commonwealth to enter into an agreement with ERIC no later than July 1, 2022. 
  • Thirty other states have already joined ERIC, which helps states keep more accurate voting rolls.

The Senate also unanimously approved an amendment to the VOTES Act targeting vote-by-mail ballot access by U.S. service members residing overseas and allowing for them to cast their vote electronically. 

The bill, through inclusion of an amendment, would also instruct the Secretary of State to conduct a comprehensive public awareness campaign to highlight the new voting and registration options.

Today's vote follows previous action by the Legislature to temporarily extend vote-by-mail and early voting options through December 15, 2021. 

The VOTES Act now advances on to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for further consideration. 

Link to legislative document -> https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/S2545