Happy September, friends! 

Is it just me or does August seem to get shorter every year?

Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of summer, and the usual signs of fall–pumpkin spice lattes, Halloween decorations, moving trucks getting “Storrowed”–are already out and about in full force. 

The end of summer in the Bay State (on even years, anyways) also means Primary Election Day. Vote this coming Tuesday 9/6 if you haven’t voted already! Find your polling location here.

This will be the first election day since the passage of the VOTES Act–the landmark legislation that made vote-by-mail and early voting permanent options for all elections in Massachusetts. This was a huge step in the right direction for access to the ballot and our democracy. 

But ultimately, it was only a partial victory; don’t forget what the original VOTES Act was all about: Same Day Voter Registration (“SDR”). This policy is known to boost turnout by an average of 10%, and as high as 17% for communities of color. In Massachusetts, that would mean between 200,000 - 500,000 more people would be able to vote. And think of all those new students and renters moving on 9/1 who would be able to vote if they didn’t have to worry about missing the arbitrary registration window!

More people voting? We simply couldn’t allow that! And by “we” I of course mean House Leadership, who stripped SDR out of the VOTES Act on the House floor right before the vote.

We all know the sad truth that many incumbents, if not most, place their careers ahead of the needs of their constituents–even a need and a right as basic as equitable access to the ballot box.

Now let’s get out there and vote at least a few of them out on Tuesday.

State House Scoop 

The crumbling MBTA: a case for progressive revenue

This week the Federal Transit Authority released the findings of their investigation of the MBTA in the wake of a slew of recent incidents, including a gruesome death on the Red Line and a dramatic Orange Line fire. As you might have guessed, the findings aren’t pretty: the 90-page report details how, over the course of years, the MBTA was allocating resources towards long term projects at the expense of day-to-day operations, maintenance, and safety. This dangerous trade-off made by the Baker administration, paired with poor management, led to the crisis we’re facing today: we have part of the Green Line Extension (finally!) but have had to shut down the entire Orange line for a month to conduct what should have been routine maintenance. 

If you will indulge me in a soapbox moment: we shouldn’t have to make a choice between expanding the T to serve more communities and keeping the T safe. We have been chronically underinvesting in public transit here in Massachusetts. This not only has a negative impact on public safety, mobility, traffic, and the environment (imagine a Greater Boston area where people rarely used cars) but it also disproportionately affects low income communities and communities of color who rely on the T, particularly the Orange Line, to go to work every day.

Friendly reminder that in November, we’ll be able to vote on the Fair Share Amendment (Yes on 1!) which would raise revenue specifically for public transit in Massachusetts. And an even friendlier reminder that they’re holding canvasses across the state to make sure it passes. Sign up to get involved here.

In Memoriam: The Graveyard of the 192nd Session

Now that our legislature is through with major business for the rest of the year, it’s time to take a look back through the 192nd legislative session to acknowledge some of the popular progressive bills that died, yet again.

Medicare for All in Massachusetts Massachusetts has the second highest healthcare costs in the country, with 16% of residents in medical debt–a concept that doesn’t exist in any other industrialized nation. The for-profit private insurance system in the U.S. leads to poorer outcomes than countries that have single payer healthcare. In reality, this means that people in the U.S. avoid seeking medical care for fear of the cost and end up dying prematurely from treatable illness. And many who do seek treatment are saddled with thousands of dollars, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, of debt for their life-saving treatments.

This bill, first filed in 1986 and every session since 2011, would establish a publicly-financed single payer healthcare system in Massachusetts guaranteeing full healthcare coverage, free at the point of service. Sounds pretty good, right? Most Bay Staters seem to agree: local non-binding ballot questions asking residents if they support single payer healthcare have passed over 20 times (soon to be far more this November!). It even has widespread support on Beacon Hill–nearly half of legislators have signed on as cosponsors. Despite the support, the bill has never even made it out of the first committee. It’s been sent to study (i.e. killed) every single time. 

Who is voting to kill this bill in committee, and why? We don’t get to know--those votes aren't public. This lack of legislative transparency and accountability has crippled this bill for decades now, which is why we partnered with Mass-Care for their non-binding ballot initiative: come November, voters in 20 districts across the state will have the chance to demand more from their legislators by voting YES on the Medicare for All ballot question. See the full list of districts here to see if the question will be on your ballot. 



If you’re reading this right now, you’ve likely noticed the barrage of fundraising emails I’ve been sending this summer. It was with good reason, I promise: some of the amazing activists of Indivisible Acton Area pledged to match all funds we raised by the end of August up to $7,000. If we reached that goal, it meant $14,000 for our humble organization. And we reached our goal! In fact, we even raised a little more!

Thank you, more than words can say, for your generosity and continued support for our mission. Because of you, we’re able to keep fighting to hold the State House accountable to the will of the people. And lord knows, we need it now more than ever.

Take Action

Last call to volunteer for our endorsed candidates!

  • Raul Fernandez, 15th Norfolk (Brookline): VOLUNTEER
  • Vivian Birchall, 14th Middlesex (Acton, Concord, Carlisle, Chelmsford): VOLUNTEER
  • Jack Stanton, 4th Barnstable (outer Cape): VOLUNTEER
  • Heather May, 9th Middlesex (Waltham): VOLUNTEER
  • Sam Montano, 15th Suffolk (JP, West Roxbury): VOLUNTEER
  • Nichole Mossalam, 35th Middlesex (Malden, Medford): VOLUNTEER
  • Timmy Sullivan, 21st Middlesex (Burlington, Bedford): VOLUNTEER

By the next Scoop, we’ll know the outcome of the primary election. We’ll know if we’re sending any courageous status-quo fighting progressives to Beacon Hill, and how that will shift the dynamic in the House. Even electing another one or two, never mind six or seven, new transparency champions to the House could change everything next session.

Two days until election day. Let’s leave it all on the field.


Erin Leahy

Executive Director, Act on Mass