Testimony as Prepared for Delivery: Election Day Registration

David Albright, JALSA program and outreach coordinator

June 20, 2019

Good afternoon, my name is David Albright and I am the Program and Outreach Coordinator for the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action.   

I am here this afternoon to speak about voting.

For Jews the importance of voting is rooted in Talmudic teaching that says that prior to the appointment of a ruler, the community must be consulted.  Driven by these values, we understand that there is great importance placed on the act of casting a ballot.

For most American Jews, myself included, voting is as central to our culture as brisket or matzah ball soup.

At JALSA and as Jews, we are driven to support Election Day Registration because it will remove barriers to voting that disproportionately impact low-income people and people of color.

Progressive American Jews have a long history of working to secure the right and ability of marginalized people to vote;  Jews were heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and it is still seen as a duty of American Jews to ensure that all eligible American citizens are able to vote.

To this day, the Union for Reform Judaism,

the Central Conference of American Rabbis,

and the Religious Action Center

advocate for legislation that protects and expands access to the ballot nationally.

JALSA believes that, by implementing Election Day registration, we will ensure that all citizens who reside in Massachusetts will have the opportunity to vote.  

We believe that passage of this legislation will remove barriers to voting and will raise voter turnout.  

In the 2018 midterm elections, Massachusetts ranked sixteenth in voter turnout.

Our state must and can do better.

Eight of the ten states with the highest 2018 turnout allow for same day voter registration. Several other states have already enacted similar legislation, including Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, California, and Illinois.

This legislation provides a clear path for city and town clerks to implement Election Day Registration.  And, in doing so, work to prevent any type of voter fraud.

We also believe that the Advisory Committee created by this legislation will allow Massachusetts to smoothly transition to the process of Election Day Registration.

Passage of this legislation will make great strides toward increasing voter equity in the Commonwealth.

No eligible person should be barred from voting due to confusing bureaucracy or registration errors.

We urge you to favorably report on this bill so that Massachusetts can run fairer and more equitable elections in which as many citizens as possible are able to exercise their fundamental right to vote.