- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 27, 2018

BOSTON (AP) - The Massachusetts House has approved a bill that would create an automatic voter registration system, making it easier for people to cast ballots in elections.

The system would automatically update a person’s voter registration when he or she notifies a state agency like the Registry of Motor Vehicles of a new address or other change in status.

The bill has been championed by groups like Common Cause Massachusetts and the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. It was approved by the House on Wednesday on a 130-20 vote.

An estimated 680,000 eligible Massachusetts voters are currently not registered to vote.

“It’s a win for democracy, it’s a win for security, and it’s a win for voters,” said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts.

Democratic state Secretary William Galvin says it’s important to get the bill approved by the Massachusetts Senate and signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker so his office can begin automatically registering eligible Massachusetts residents in time to vote in the 2020 presidential primary.

Galvin said the bill would let Massachusetts residents automatically be registered to vote as part of their transactions with the Registry of Motor Vehicles and MassHealth unless they specifically decline to add their names and addresses to voter lists in their city or town.

Those who are automatically registered will be notified by mail of the opportunity to choose a political party or to decline to register. Those who do not decline within three weeks will be registered to vote. Those already registered will have their information checked for any changes, such as a change of address.

The process to start automatically registering voters would begin Jan. 1, 2020, under the bill.

The bill would also let voters who are protected by the state’s Address Confidentiality Program to register confidentially, so that victims of domestic violence or sexual assault can vote without being located by their abusers.

The Senate must act before July 31, the end of the formal legislative session, for the bill to reach Baker’s desk this year.

According to Common Cause, 13 states and the District of Columbia have passed automatic voter registration: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

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