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State’s high court to hear GOP challenge to Mass. mail-in voting law

With the law, Massachusetts joined 26 states and Washington, D.C., to offer “no-excuse” absentee voting.

Elise Amendola
Election officials sorted and counted absentee and early voting ballots inside Boston City Hall in November 2020. Elise Amendola/The Associated Press


The state’s highest court is moving with uncharacteristic swiftness to weigh a recent challenge by the Massachusetts Republican Party that argues a new law that makes universal mail-in voting permanent is not constitutional.

At stake is the VOTES Act, a sweeping election law that makes no-excuse mail-in voting permanent, expands early voting options, and implements post-election audits, among other reforms. The law offers millions of Massachusetts voters the ability to vote before primary and general election days from the comfort of their homes with no reason needed. With two months until this year’s Sept. 6 primary, time is of the essence. Oral arguments are set for Wednesday morning, less than two weeks after the Republican Party filed its lawsuit, which claimed mail ballots introduce the potential for fraud in elections.

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Meanwhile, Secretary of State William F. Galvin is readying to send ballot applications to more than 4.7 million voters by July 23, he said. Millions of dollars in postage have already been purchased, and the proofs for ballot design and signage have been approved. He said, for now, his office is waiting on the court’s green light. “Due to the significant time constraints in this matter, and because the complaint raises wide-ranging and novel constitutional challenges to the new election law implicating the fundamental right to vote, I hereby exercise my discretion to reserve and report the matter to the full court for decision,” Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Scott L. Kafker wrote in an order last week.

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