The Supreme Judicial Court has dismissed Republicans’ legal challenges to the state’s new mail-in-voting law. According to the opinion,
On June 16, 2022, the Legislature passed “An Act fostering voter opportunities, trust, equity and security” (VOTES act), which expanded opportunities to vote in Massachusetts…The VOTES act provided that any qualified voter in Massachusetts, without need for excuse, can vote early, in person or by mail (universal early voting), in primaries and biennial State elections.
The court summarizes the legal issues as follows:
The self-professed “heart” of the plaintiffs’ complaint is the claim that the universal early voting provisions are facially unconstitutional because, except for in three limited circumstances where “absentee voting” is authorized under art. 45 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution, as amended by art. 105 of the Amendments, the Legislature is prohibited from providing for any form of voting other than in person on the day of the primary or election. We disagree. Voting is a fundamental right, and nothing in art. 45, as amended by art. 105, or in other parts of the Constitution cited by the plaintiffs, prohibits the Legislature, which has plenary constitutional powers, including broad powers to regulate the process of elections and even broader powers with respect to primaries, from enhancing voting opportunities. This is particularly true with respect to the universal early voting provisions in the VOTES act, which, in stark contrast to the narrow and discrete absentee-voting provisions of art. 45, enhance voting opportunities equally for all voters.
The plaintiffs also claim that the VOTES act
(1) violates the elections clause of the United States Constitution, U.S. Const. art. I, § 4, by allowing municipalities to fill poll worker vacancies in the six weeks leading up to the election without regard to political party affiliation;
(2) violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and its State constitutional equivalents by extending the ban on electioneering in and around polling places to the early voting
(3) violates art. 38 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution by allowing disabled, overseas, and military voters to cast votes electronically; and
(4) arbitrarily and irrationally counts the votes of people who lawfully cast their ballots during the early voting period but die before election day, which the plaintiffs characterize as allowing “dead people to vote.”
Unsurprisingly, the liberal justices rejected all of these arguments:
We discern no merit to these claims as well.
And concluded that,
judgment enter in the county court for the Secretary on all claims in the plaintiffs’ complaint and that the plaintiffs’ request to enjoin the Secretary from putting the VOTES act into effect be denied.