The ACLU of Massachusetts today released recommendations that government officials should implement to ensure a safe and secure election. The recommendations seek to protect the right to vote and the democratic process, as well as the health, safety, and civil liberties of all Massachusetts residents. 

“Our democracy is strongest when all voices are heard, but taking necessary safety precautions and counting every vote may mean delays in official results,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Massachusetts state and municipal leaders have a responsibility to provide reassurance to the public—before and after November 3. Conflicting reports of election results undermine election integrity and chip away at voters’ trust in the process. Patience is a democratic value.”

To ensure the democratic process unfolds without interruption or interference, the ACLU of Massachusetts recommends:

-  Massachusetts elected leaders make clear that the state will protect the right to vote, and will not stand for anyone interfering with that right;

-  Massachusetts elected leaders reassure the public that the election is not over until every eligible voter’s ballot is counted. With a surge of mail-in ballots in Massachusetts and nationwide, there may not be final results on election night;

-  Massachusetts elected leaders speak out publicly against anti-democratic actions by other elected officials who threaten to interfere with voting, counting of all ballots, or the results of the election.

In the event of political demonstrations on election night or during the period between the final day of voting and Inauguration Day, the ACLU of Massachusetts says law enforcement must protect the right to protest and the First Amendment. While there are no current reasons to believe potential protests will be met with suppression, recommendations include:

-  State and local law enforcement must ensure that tear gas and other non-lethal weapons are not used against peaceful protesters;

-  State and local law enforcement must obey local leadership, and refuse to obey any unlawful orders from the federal government;

-  State and local law enforcement should not share information about protesters or residents with federal officials absent lawful court orders.

For 100 years, the ACLU has worked to promote access to the ballot and fight voter suppression. This election season, the ACLU has filed over 30 legal actions in 20 states to ensure safe access to the ballot in November. Here in Massachusetts, the ACLU worked with voting rights organizations and lawmakers to pass legislation to enable widespread voting by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic. In advance of the general election, the ACLU of Massachusetts has trained hundreds of poll monitors to help ensure voters cast their ballots on Election Day without unnecessary obstacles.