AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION ACCORD READY FOR FINAL VOTES
By Katie Lannan
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JULY 26, 2018...House and Senate negotiators working on automatic voter registration legislation filed a compromise bill with the House clerk's office late Thursday afternoon.
Under the bill (H 4834), which all six conference committee members agreed to, eligible citizens would automatically be registered to vote when they interact with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, unless they choose to opt out.
The Division of Medical Assistance and the Health Connector Authority would also become "automatic voter registration agencies. The only RMV information used for registration purposes would come from driver's license and ID card transactions.
The House plans to meet in a formal session on Friday, when representatives could take up the voter registration bill and compromise veterans legislation approved by the Senate on Thursday.
The week started with 10 bills in conference committee, and six are still being worked out, including an environmental bond bill and legislation dealing with short-term rentals, health care, school funding, animal protection, and clean energy.
Gov. Charlie Baker earlier this month voiced confidence in the RMV's ability to implement an automatic voter registration system, pointing to a new computer system adopted earlier this year so the state could issue licenses that comply with the federal Real ID standards.
"The implementation of the new platform that we installed back in April, the move under state law to Real ID and lawful presence, you put those things together and it makes it possible, I believe, for the commonwealth to serve in a role like this with a fairly high degree of integrity that did not exist before," Baker said on July 13.
Baker also said he gave lawmakers "technical advice" on the bill and recommended a "single path through the registry" to the secretary of state's office.
With five days remaining for formal sessions, the Senate on Thursday gaveled out until Monday. Weekend sessions had been forecast, but Senate President Karen Spilka told the News Service she believes the Senate can handle its remaining work, including budget veto overrides, on Monday and Tuesday.
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