The day after candidates for municipal elections were able to submit their Statement of Candidacy, Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards introduced a resolution calling for the number of signatures required to appear on the ballot to be reduced, allowing signatures to be gathered electronically, and for restrictions on how many nomination petitions each registered voter may sign to be eased. The resolution was unanimously adopted by the Council during Wednesday’s council meeting.
Boston candidates have some of the highest signature thresholds in the state and one of the shortest windows of time to gather those signatures.
“We’re still in the middle of a pandemic,” said Councilor Edwards. “I don’t know how candidates can be expected to gather hundreds or thousands of signatures safely. These three changes are common sense solutions that have been proven to work in both keeping people safe and allowing for candidates to collect the required signatures. I hope the state will move quickly and implement these changes.”
East Boston, part of Councilor Edwards’ district, has seen some of the highest covid infection rates in the city and just saw a 10% increase from last week.
Patrick Roath, a Boston attorney and voting rights activist who led the legal effort to reduce in-person signature collection requirements during the pandemic last spring, praised the resolution and called for the changes to be implemented. “Requiring candidates to gather large numbers of signatures to reach the ballot in the midst of an ongoing pandemic diminishes our democracy and is a threat to public health,” said Roath. “We can fix this. There is nothing preventing state officials from acting to provide candidates temporary relief from the signature collection rules. I hope that the resolution offered by Councilor Edwards opens the door to meaningful, urgent reform