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Keller @ Large: Voter Rights Debate Isn't Just On The National Level, It's Happening In Massachusetts

BOSTON (CBS) -- The voting rights debate is reaching a climax in Washington D.C. But did you know that voter access is becoming a political flashpoint on Beacon Hill as well?

It's the issue propelling Boston NAACP President Tanisha Sullivan to run for secretary of state, promising in her announcement video this morning that "I'll champion policies to protect, defend and expand voting rights here in Massachusetts and across our country."

In an interview with WBZ News, she adds: "If they're not going to get it done in DC, we have to lead on it."

The Massachusetts House let pandemic-era voting changes like mail-in and expanded early voting expire last month, despite their apparent popularity with the voters. Sullivan doesn't see why. "Not only does it work, not only is it safe and secure, but voters appreciate it, we saw record voter turnout," she says.

Incumbent Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who has yet to formally announce a re-election bid, seemed to agree when he said this last year: "We had a very successful election cycle and we want to make sure that progress is not lost."

But the devil is in the details. For instance, some local legislators balk at same-day voter registration, even though the other New England states all have it in some form. And Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl, who claims the 2020 election was "rigged," has signaled he'll campaign on the claim that voting rules here are too lenient.

All of which, to Sullivan, adds urgency to the voting rights movement. "If we don't do all we can to protect and defend voting rights but also expand voting rights, then our democracy truly is in jeopardy."

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