BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a bill allowing early voting up to 11 days before Election Day, making Massachusetts the 33rd state to embrace early voting.

The new law also lets 16- and 17-year-olds pre-register to vote — a move designed to help encourage teens to continue voting through their adulthood.

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Patrick signed the bill at a Statehouse ceremony Thursday, calling it a “great step forward” for voting rights in Massachusetts.

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The new law also creates an online portal to check voter registration status and allows postelection audits of randomly selected precincts after presidential elections.

Supporters say early voting helps citizens better fit voting into busy schedules. Voting rights groups also say online registration will encourage more people to register.

The new law also requires municipal election officials attend annual trainings sessions.

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