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Massachusetts lawmakers weigh bills to expand voting access
AP, Steve LeblancMay 19, 2021 (Short)

Massachusetts lawmakers are weighing whether to take some of the voting changes adopted at the height of the pandemic — including the broad use of mail-in voting — and make them permanent.

The state took that step and others — including expanding the use of early voting and ballot drop boxes — to help diminish the pandemic health risk of voters crowding polling locations.

Many of those changes proved popular, leading to a push to write them into state law.

“The pandemic is coming to an end and we have to think about whether we want to make some of these changes permanent,” said Democratic state Sen. Barry Finegold, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Election Laws.

Mass. Republicans continue to contest 2020 election results
Commonwealth , Shira SchoenbergMay 14, 2021 (Short)

Closer to home, former 5th Congressional District candidate Caroline Colarusso indicated that she too is not giving up her stance questioning the integrity of the November election.

A Worcester Superior Court judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by five losing Republican candidates, including Colarusso, challenging the election results. On Thursday, Colarusso said the group plans to file an appeal.

“Our intention is to appeal,” Colarusso told CommonWealth. “In the judge’s decision, she glossed over the constitutional issue, which is the crux of our argument.”

The Republicans had argued that the state law allowing voters to vote by mail for any reason during the COVID-19 pandemic was unconstitutional because it falls outside the constitutionally established reasons for letting voters cast absentee ballots. Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin and the Legislature have maintained that early voting by mail is different from absentee balloting, so it can have different rules.

It’s time to bring transparency to the Legislature
Commonwealth, Jonathan CohnFebruary 24, 2021 (Short)

Rules debate can lift shroud of secrecy from work of the people’s representatives

In 2016, when the Massachusetts Legislature updated the state’s public records laws, they chose to punt on the issue of how such laws should apply to themselves. Indeed, Massachusetts remains the only state where the courts, Legislature, and governor’s office all claim to be fully exempt from public records laws.

In traditional Beacon Hill fashion, the Legislature created a commission to study the issue further, and the bicameral commission ended up with no actual recommendations.

But that’s not the fault of the senators in the commission. Frustrated with their House colleagues, the six Senate members issued their own report on December 31, 2018. In the report, they highlighted several as-of-yet-unadopted ways make the Massachusetts Legislature more accessible, including the release of all written testimony received prior to all committee hearings and any testimony or other materials submitted in-person during the hearing process, upon request and the online publication of any vote recorded either by electronic poll or by a vote of the “yeas and nays” during a committee meeting or executive session.

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