EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 17, 2008

Lawrence mayor slams same-day voter registration bill

BOSTON — Lawrence Mayor Michael Sullivan blasted a Beacon Hill plan to allow same-day voter registration, saying it would open the "floodgates" to fraud.

The Senate is expected to vote on the proposal today. Beginning in November, it would allow people to register to vote at their town or city hall and then cast their ballot.

"This would open the floodgates for potential fraud in cities and towns where it might be an issue," Sullivan said yesterday. "This is the most ridiculous proposal I've heard when it comes to voting in my seven years (as mayor)."

Sullivan said letting people sign up to vote on Election Day would be problematic for town and city clerks and possibly create a major expense for communities needing to verify voters' identity.

"(They're) saying, 'Bring in the fraud and put the burden and expense on cities and towns to sort out after the election,'" Sullivan said.

The bill's major proponent, Sen. Edward Augustus, D-Worcester, said Sullivan's concerns are unfounded.

"There's no increase in fraud allegations" with same-day registration, Augustus said. "The only thing that increases is voter participation."

Augustus pointed to studies showing as many as 220,000 more people would vote if they could register at the polls.

The bill, aimed at helping people who moved but didn't re-register to vote, would contain current antifraud safeguards. Voters would still have to show proof of identification and residency, such as a driver's license and utility bill. They would also have to sign an affidavit attesting to their identity.

Five states, including Maine and New Hampshire, allow same-day registration.

"I never hear of New Hampshire being a hotbed of voter fraud," Augustus said.

Lawrence elections, though, are plagued by constant complaints of voter fraud. Earlier this year, the Legislature shot down a Lawrence-backed proposal requiring voters to show a photo identification card.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Merrimack Valley

Eagle-Tribune News Videos
Photos of the Week