BOSTON (CBS) — Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin has proposed making vote by mail and same-day registration become permanent fixtures in all elections. A bill will be filed later this month, his office announced Tuesday.

“Last year tested us in many ways. It was a very challenging year, certainly for the local election officials. It tested us but at the same time, it showed us what we can do. And I think the result was that we had a very successful election cycle and we want to make sure that progress is not lost,” Galvin told WBZ-TV.

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According to the proposal, there was record voter turnout in the 2020 elections, which featured a number of provisions such as vote by mail and extended in-person early voting, to help people vote while avoiding crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“What we saw last year was that voting by mail was enormously popular,” Galvin said. “While voting by mail may not always be used to the same extent at the pandemic finally ends, my office has heard from many voters who have made it clear that they want this option to remain available for all future elections.”

Currently, state law limits voting by mail in most elections to absentee ballots. In order to get an absentee ballot, a voter has to have a specific excuse.

The law also requires voters to be registered at least 20 days before Election Day in order to vote.

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Galvin’s proposal makes it possible for voters to register or update their information on Election Day, something he has been pushing for several years.

“I believe that with the appropriate technological safeguards in place, we can implement same-day voter registration in a convenient and secure manner, as several of our neighboring states have done,” Galvin said.

The bill also expands in-person early voting opportunities. It would guarantee weekend voting in statewide elections and primaries, with early voting periods spanning 14 days for general elections and seven days for primaries. The bill also enables cities and towns to offer early voting for local elections, which is currently prohibited.

Lastly, the bill also provides further flexibility with the hiring poll workers and processing ballots.

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Galvin said his office worked closely with local election officials to figure out what worked and what didn’t in 2020.

CBSBoston.com Staff