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Malden – February 11, 2022

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By Bob Katzen

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  THE HOUSE AND SENATE. There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.

Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives’ votes on recent roll calls from January 27. All the roll calls are on proposed amendments to the bill making changes in the state’s election laws including making permanent the mail-in and early voting options used in Massachusetts in 2020.

  The House and Senate have approved different versions of the legislation and a conference committee has been appointed to hammer out a compromise version that would then be sent to Gov. Charlie Baker for his signature.


  House 32-126, rejected an amendment to a current law that imposes up to a $10,000 fine and/or up to a 5-year prison sentence on anyone who knowingly engages in any type of voting fraud including illegally registering to vote; illegally voting or attempting to vote; voting more than once; and aiding and abetting a person who is illegally voting. The amendment would raise the fine to up to $20,000.

  “Maintaining the integrity of our elections is of paramount importance and is not a partisan issue,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Brad Jones (R-North Reading), the sponsor of the amendment. “Expanding the existing financial penalties for those individuals who knowingly attempt to engage in voting fraud will provide a strong deterrent to help prevent this type of illegal activity.”

  “We’re in agreement,” said Rep. Dan Ryan (D-Charlestown), the House chair of the Elections Laws Committee. “Of course we all want safe and secure elections. That’s why we are here … there are safeguards already in place, in Massachusetts General Law, to prevent such fraud and abuse of our electoral system. And study after study has also shown that election fraud is not as prevalent as some might think it is, or as folks purport it to be. So therefore $10,000 seems like an appropriate deterrent to election fraud. So I ask for a ‘No’ vote on the amendment, as what is in place is currently working.”

  (A “Yes” vote is for raising the fine to up to $20,000. A “No” vote is against raising it.)

Rep. Paul Donato    No

Rep. Steven Ultrino No



  House 28-130, rejected an amendment that would require that any polling place that requires a voter to prove he or she is vaccinated, by presenting his or her vaccination card, to also show suitable identification to demonstrate proof of residence to the local election officer.

  “The amendment would require that if vaccination status was required to enter a polling location, then the poll officials would be required to verify the identity of the card holder,” said amendment sponsor Rep. Peter Durant (R-Spencer). “The reasoning behind the amendment was to ensure that if the local officials required a vaccine, then they should verify that the person was indeed the one named on the card.”

  “Thank you for the spirited debate,” said Election Laws Committee House chair Dan Ryan. As I mentioned in a previous response to [this] amendment, mandates requiring proof of vaccination have not been extended to voting sites. Therefore, I would ask for a ‘No’ vote on this amendment.”

  (A “Yes” vote is for the amendment requiring a voter to show suitable identification. A “No” vote is against requiring it.)

Rep. Paul Donato    No

Rep. Steven Ultrino No



  House 29-128, rejected an amendment that would require that any voting software or voting machine that is used to process early, absentee or mail-in voting prior to Election Day must be secured at all times once the processing has begun. At the end of each processing period, the machine, software and ballots must be secured by a police officer and an election official either in a secured vault at the city or town hall or at the police station in a private cell—and must remain under video surveillance.

  Amendment sponsor Rep. Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) said that voters should feel confident in knowing that their ballots are always safe and secure. “As early voting continues to expand, we need to make sure that these ballots have the same security and chain of custody as do the ballots on Election Day,” said Dooley. Once the early ballots are processed—currently there is no 24/7chain of custody protection—opening up the possibility for tampering or questioning the process.”

  “As we’ve discussed earlier, the security of our ballot boxes and our ballots once they arrive are not an issue,” said Elections Laws House Chair Rep. Dan Ryan. “We currently have a Massachusetts General Law as we continue to examine election integrity and security. We have laws that require the clerk of each city and town to provide a place for the safekeeping of the ballot boxes and voting machines used throughout the commonwealth. The care and custody of voting machines, ballots, boxes and apparatus are kept in good order and repair subject to the supervision and control of the secretary of state. So, therefore I request a ‘No’ vote on this amendment.”

  (A “Yes” vote is for the amendment. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Paul Donato    No

Rep. Steven Ultrino No


  HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK’S SESSION? Beacon Hill Roll Call tracks the length of time that the House and Senate were in session each week. Many legislators say that legislative sessions are only one aspect of the Legislature’s job and that a lot of important work is done outside of the House and Senate chambers. They note that their jobs also involve committee work, research, constituent work and other matters that are important to their districts. Critics say that the Legislature does not meet regularly or long enough to debate and vote in public view on the thousands of pieces of legislation that have been filed. They note that the infrequency and brief length of sessions are misguided and lead to irresponsible late-night sessions and a mad rush to act on dozens of bills in the days immediately preceding the end of an annual session.

  During the week of January 31-February 4, the House met for a total of three hours and 51 minutes and the Senate met for a total of three hours and 24 minutes.


Mon. Jan. 31 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:19 a.m.

                      Senate 11:14 a.m. to 11:23 a.m.


Tues. Feb. 1 No House session

                      No Senate session


Wed. Feb. 2 No House session

                     No Senate session


Thurs. Feb. 3 House 11:02 a.m. to 2:34 p.m.

                       Senate 11:18 a.m. to 2:33 p.m.


Fri. Feb. 4 No House session

                  No Senate session


  Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com Bob founded Beacon Hill Roll Call in 1975 and was inducted into the New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA) Hall of Fame in 2019.

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