BOSTON — A Republican-led plan to require ID to vote in elections has fizzled out after proponents failed to turn in enough signatures to make the 2022 ballot.

The Committee to Bring Voter ID to Massachusetts, a ballot committee behind the initiative, needed to collect at least 80,000 signatures into Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s office — the first of several hurdles to get onto next year’s ballot. But the committee wasn’t able to muster the signatures by Wednesday’s deadline.

Jim Lyons, chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, acknowledges that the signature gathering campaign came up short but vowed to press on with efforts to enact a voter ID law.

“We remain steadfast in the belief that the voters deserve the opportunity to decide whether the policy belongs in Massachusetts,” Lyons, of Andover, said in a statement. “A voter ID requirement remains the best way to restore faith in our elections.”

Supporters of the proposal, which include former state lawmaker and Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl, point out at least 36 other states require some form of photo ID to cast a ballot in federal, state or local elections.

“We show ID to do so many things: Driving a car, getting on a plane, buying cigarettes and alcohol,” Diehl said in recent campaign statement. “Why wouldn’t we show ID to vote to ensure we are who we say we are? It is a no-brainer.”

But voting rights advocates say voter fraud is largely nonexistent in Massachusetts, so the change is unnecessary.

“Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem,” said Alex Psilakis, policy and communications manager for MassVOTE, a non-partisan group that seeks to increase voter participation. “There’s no evidence of voter fraud in Massachusetts so the need for any voter ID laws is nonexistent.”

Galvin, a Democrat who oversees the state’s elections, also opposes a voter ID requirement and said it would disenfranchise the elderly and others who don’t have a driver’s license or other identification.

Still, a recent University of Massachusetts at Amherst poll found more than half of respondents, or 55%, support requiring voter ID to vote in elections.

A summary of the proposed ballot question, which cleared a legal review by Attorney General Maria Healey, points out that voters who don’t have ID, or forget to bring it with them, would still be allowed to cast a ballot by filling out an affidavit at the polling station certifying their identity.

Proponents have also filed several bills in the current legislative session to require voter ID that are pending before the Committee on Election Laws.

But it seems unlikely those will be taken up in the Democrat-controlled Legislature, where lawmakers have been reluctant to approve similar proposals in the past.

Lyons said in a recent email blast to party members that Democratic lawmakers “will never so much as debate the merits of voter ID laws, and that’s why we’re taking this question straight to the people.”

The push for a voter ID law comes as Republican-led states consider similar controversial measures they say are aimed at preventing voter fraud.

It also follows a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld voting limits in Arizona, which a lower court found discriminatory under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker hasn’t said where he stands on a photo ID law, but has supported mail balloting and other efforts to expand voting options.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at

Trending Video

Recommended for you