Massachusetts may move closer to adopting automatic voter registration, a move voting rights advocates say could greatly benefit traditionally low-voting communities.
A bill before a Beacon Hill committee would change the state's voter registration system to automatically put all eligible voters onto the rolls.
"Automatic voter registration would simply switch the system from an opt-in system to an opt-out one using modern technology to make the process more efficient," Pam WIlmot from the voting access advocacy group Common Cause Massachusetts said. Wilmot added that the change is the next step in modernizing the state's election laws.
Proponents say automatic registration would greatly benefit communities of color and other lower-turnout communities.
Currently, eligible voters need to sign themselves up to register to vote in their home city or town.
Municipal clerks testified that they would only support the bill if lawmakers also provide enough funding to implement the new system.
U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy wrote to the committee that a modern system would not make the Commonwealth more susceptible to voter fraud.
"In this country it is more likely that a person will be struck by lightning than that her or she will impersonate another voter at the polls. 135 million Americans voted in the 2016 election. Reports have found just four documented cases of voter fraud," Kennedy wrote in testimony to the Elections Laws Committee supporting the bill. 
Kennedy's staff said this and last year's transgender anti-discrimination bill are the only two pieces of state legislation the Brookline Democrat has endorsed.