Worried about the voting process

To the Editor:

When Brian Dowd asked Democratic National Convention CEO Joe Solmonese of Chilmark on April 13th how he felt about Wisconsin having people go out [on April 7] and vote in person despite their stay-at-home order, his answer sounded a loud alarm.

Joe said, “You have to wonder what the motivation was behind the Republicans insisting the election take place today and insisting that people vote in person. I worry that is going to be the sort of mindset that carries us into the fall.”

Last week, the Massachusetts Legislature passed an emergency bill that will help more voters participate in spring municipal and special elections from the safety of their own home and help protect public health in the coronavirus crisis. That was a critical first step.

While our fall elections may feel a long way off, there is a possibility that the current crisis resurges in the late summer or fall. The consequences of not acting now to prepare for that possibility are too great.

To that end, our state Legislature must act quickly to extend “no-excuse” absentee voting and early voting days in Massachusetts for the September primary and the November general elections, to secure more funding to train more poll workers, and to think creatively about reforms to ensure that in-person voting can take place with appropriate social distancing and precautions (what about, for example, drive-through voting?).

No one wants to entertain the possibility that we are in similar circumstances in the fall. But it’s possible, and the consequences to our democracy of failing to act now to ensure our elections are participatory and safe are too great.

Margaret Emerson
Carla Cooper
Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard