Over the past few years, we have seen the attacks on democracy grow across the country. As young Democrats and young advocates of democracy itself, we believe that it would be an embarrassment to see such attacks extend to Massachusetts.
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all aspects of our society, and that includes campaigning. Door-to-door canvassing, house parties, and other traditional means of in-person voter contact are now impossible within public health guidelines. This disruption is especially severe in the case of signature collection.
Maintaining high signature thresholds needlessly restricts ballot access and disadvantages candidates who do not start with large war chests or decades-old political networks, assets young candidates rarely have.
The Legislature should take swift action to sensibly reduce signature requirements for all races on the ballot. The Senate’s legislation to lower signature thresholds for all candidates not running for State Legislature is a start, although one with a gaping hole. We are disappointed that Republican Senator Ryan Fattman chose to block it out of a belief that not only he — but also his wife, Worcester County Registrar of Probate Stephanie Fattman — needed protection from democracy.
As the April 28 and May 5 deadlines to submit signatures rapidly approach, legislators have to ask themselves whether they care more about cynical self-preservation than about the preservation of democracy itself.