UPDATE 7/2/2018: The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the 20-day voter registration cutoff law does not violate the Massachusetts constitution, despite disenfranchising thousands of potential voters throughout the state. Read the ACLU of Massachusetts’ full statement here.

Chelsea Collaborative v. Galvin was originally filed in Massachusetts’ Suffolk Superior Court in 2016 to challenge the Commonwealth’s requirement that eligible Massachusetts voters register 20 days before an election. The suit was filed on behalf of the Chelsea Collaborative, MassVOTE, several individual registered voters and a class of similarly situated individuals.

Under the voter cutoff law, thousands of otherwise eligible people are barred from voting in each election. This arbitrary deadline interferes with the fundamental right to vote and unnecessarily disenfranchises voters.

The ACLU of Massachusetts, the national ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, and law firm Ropes & Gray LLP asked the court to declare the law unconstitutional, order the government to end its enforcement, and allow our three individual plaintiffs to vote in the November 2016 election. The Suffolk Superior Court allowed our plaintiffs to cast provisional ballots, which were later counted.

After a four-day trial, the court agreed in July, 2017 that the arbitrary 20-day voter registration cutoff law is unconstitutional and disenfranchises thousands of potential voters throughout the Commonwealth. View our statement on the decision here.

Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin appealed the decision and the case will go before the Supreme Judicial Court on March 6, 2018.


Matthew R. Segal, Jessie J. Rossman, Rahsaan Hall (ACLU of Massachusetts); Sean J. Young, Dale E. Ho (ACLU); Kirsten V. Mayer, Patrick G. Welsh, Nicholas D. Bradley (Ropes and Gray LLP)