Area legislators show support for federal bill ensuring voting rights


  • Mindy Domb running for 3rd Hampshire District at the Gazette Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Staff Writer
Published: 8/3/2021 9:38:36 PM

Massachusetts legislators have joined a nationwide call to pass a bill intended to ensure baseline voting rights across all states.

Seventy-four state legislators, including state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and state Rep. Mindy Domb, D-Amherst, who led the effort in Massachusetts, signed a letter urging Congress to pass the legislation, called the For the People Act.

The legislation “establishes one standard of voting rights nationally,” Comerford said, “so it doesn’t leave voting rights out of states where they are indeed under attack.”

Among numerous stipulations, the bill would create requirements to modernize the voter registration process; provide accessible voting for people with disabilities; require 15 days of early voting for federal elections; and establish penalties for people found guilty of voter suppression or intimidation — a measure that Comerford described as “extraordinary.”

The legislation comes with the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, an updated version of the original act passed in 1965. The bill would strengthen existing measures of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and restore provisions that were struck down in 2013, such as a requirement that states and local governments with histories of discriminatory voting measures must federally clear changes to their voting laws.

On Tuesday, Comerford joined state legislators from around the country for a rally in Washington, D.C., showing solidarity behind the legislation.

Speakers at the rally included representatives from states where voting rights have notably come under attack, including Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama.

“Really, the person who brought down the house was (Georgia) Sen. Raphael Warnock,” Comerford said, “who reminded us that there is blistering voter suppression in Georgia — and still, Georgia delivered for the nation, so we have to deliver for Georgia.”

Western Massachusetts legislators showed widespread support for the legislation, with state Reps. Lindsay Sabadosa, Natalie Blais, Dan Carey and state Sens. Eric Lesser and Adam Hinds also signing the letter.

“We all came together from our legislatures on one issue,” Comerford said, “and if we were going to do it, the sanctity of voting … is an issue that I think deserves state legislature solidarity.”

The For the People Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in March and now needs to pass the Senate.


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