Councilor: Ordinance would improve access to voter registration in Brockton

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By Marc Larocque
As published within The Enterprise

BROCKTON – A new ordinance proposed for the city aims to increase access to voter registration.

Councilor-at-large Jean Bradley Derenoncourt recently filed a proposed ordinance aimed at increasing the access points to voter registration in Brockton. The ordinance is on the agenda for Monday’s meeting at 6:15 p.m. at the George Romm Little Theatre at Brockton High School.

“The idea behind the new ordinance is simple: to enable our resident citizens to register during routine interactions with city officials, employees and departments,” said Derenoncourt, in a statement to The Enterprise. “Eligible voters will be able to register to vote while signing up for a library card, buying a parking pass or Smart Card, or choosing classes at Brockton High.”

Derenoncourt said Boston has a similar city ordinance, which was signed into law by Mayor Martin Walsh on April 23.

The ordinance filed by Derenoncourt states that welcome centers at Brockton High School and throughout the school district should provide pre-registration information and forms to all students eligible to pre-register, which enables them to become automatically registered once they turn 18.

“Voter registration forms shall also be provided to parents or legal guardians when registering children for school,” the ordinance states. “Brockton Public Schools shall develop a policy to ensure that as many eligible students as possible have the opportunity to vote.”

The proposed ordinance states that the Brockton Public Library should offer voter registration forms to individuals when they are applying for their library cards, and that the Brockton Public Library should otherwise make voter registration forms available in highly visible locations.

The ordinance states that the Brockton Area Transit Authority should also provide registration materials to people when they are buying parking permits and Smart Cards.

“BAT shall deliver any completed voter registration forms to the city’s Elections Commission,” the ordinance states.

The ordinance proposal states that youth and family centers partnered with the city should also make voter registration forms available.

Derenoncourt’s ordinance says that Massachusetts has a voter registration cutoff law that requires voters to register at least 20 days prior to participating in an election, and that such restrictions on registration “disenfranchise voters and have a disproportionate impact on low-income and minority residents” in the community.

“This rule has not changed since the original law was passed in 1893, 125 years ago, when voter registration was contingent upon property ownership and gender,” said Derenoncourt told The Enterprise. “In 2018, this 20-day cutoff only serves to make it harder for potential voters to vote, and it mostly impacts young folks. It is our job, therefore, as public servants, to seek to increase engagement, and to hear the voice of our community as a whole. Increasing registration opportunities will help to serve this purpose.”

The proposed ordinance would have to go through the Ordinance Committee on Monday night before it can go onto City Council Finance Committee and then City Council for final approval.

“The bottom line is this: the ability to participate in an election is a fundamental civil right of all citizens, and a central principle of our democracy,” Derenoncourt said. “I believe this law will be a positive step toward growing our population of voters, increasing youth engagement, and building a community where all our voices are heard.”

Article originally published by The Enterprise available here.