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Press release/statement

Election Day Registration Would Boost Voter Participation in Massachusetts, According to New Report

Turnout Increases of 5 to 10 Percent Possible Under Legislation Currently Before Statehouse

Boston, MA — Voter participation in Massachusetts will significantly increase if the state passes Election Day Registration (EDR) into law, according to a new report published today by national public policy and election reform research center Demos and released in collaboration with MassVote. The Massachusetts State Legislature passed an EDR bill (S. 2514) out of the Joint Committee on Election Laws on February 21, 2008; if passed, the bill would allow state residents to register and vote on Election Day this November.

"Election Day Voter Registration in Massachusetts," authored for Demos by election policy experts R. Michael Alvarez from the California Institute of Technology and Jonathan Nagler of New York University, finds that with EDR Massachusetts could expect a boost in turnout, with particularly large increases for some demographic groups. 

"Our report shows that adoption of EDR could raise turnout in Massachusetts, overall, about 5 percent," said Nagler.  "EDR can have an especially positive affect on turnout rates of young voters, those who've recently moved, naturalized citizens, and people of color."

Co-author Alvarez added, "One clear conclusion of voter turnout studies conducted over the last 35 years is that states that make registration and the voting process easier will increase participation among eligible voters.  EDR is a clear example of that trend." 

Key findings from the report:

  • Nationally, in 2004, EDR states had a voter turnout rate of 70.3 percent, versus 54.7 percent in states without EDR.
  • In 2004, 59.1 percent of Massachusetts's voting age population cast a ballot in the general election.
  • If Massachusetts had EDR, indicators point to a likely boost in turnout of around 5 percent.
  • Turnout among those between the ages of 18 to 25 could increase by 9.7 percent.
  • Turnout for those who have moved in the last six months could increase by 7.9 percent.
  • Turnout for African Americans could increase by 5.6 percent under EDR.

"It's time to put voters first.  Election Day Registration has worked for decades in neighboring states--and it could help thousands of individuals in Massachusetts," said bill sponsor Senator Edward M. Augustus, Jr. "Election Day Registration ensures that people who recently moved, new citizens, and people whose registration forms got lost still get the chance to vote.  Election Day Registration is a proven and effective way that we can expand the practice of democracy and achieve the desirable goal of increasing voter turnout."

Diane Jeffery, President of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, added "There are many reasons why people may not have registered in advance — but that doesn't mean those people aren't fully prepared to cast an informed and meaningful ballot. Election Day Registration will allow many of those left out — highly mobile populations such as students and young adults, as well as new residents — to vote in greater numbers. It is time to pass EDR into law."

"EDR has been employed across the country, and is one of the pre-eminent reforms states are considering because it very clearly increases voter participation — and does so safely and in a cost effective manner" said Stuart Comstock-Gay, Director of Demos' Democracy Program.  

Avi Green, Executive Director of MassVote, concluded that "Massachusetts would do well to adopt this reform that is already successfully employed in many of its sister states, and pay attention to the more than 30 years of success those states have had with Election Day Registration."

For more information or to download a full copy of the "Election Day Voter Registration in Massachusetts" report, visit or