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League of Women Voters

Massachusetts Voting Guide

Registration Deadlines
In Person:
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
By Mail:
Received by Wednesday, August 15, 2018 Online by Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Election Dates:
Tuesday, September 4, 2018 (State Primary)
Secretary of the Commonwealth
1 Ashburton Place
McCormack Room 1705
Boston, MA 2108
Phone:
617-727-2828
Fax:
617-742-3238

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to vote in Massachusetts, you must be:

  • A US citizen
  • A resident of Massachusetts
  • At least 18 years old on or before Election Day
  • Not be under legal guardianship with respect to voting, in prison for a felony, or convicted of election fraud (even if the prison term is completed)

ID Needed for Voter Registration

You must attach identification to your voter registration form if you are registering to vote for the first time in Massachusetts. If you registered to vote by mail on or after January 1, 2003, you will be required to show identification when you vote for the first time in a federal election. However, you can also send in a copy of your identification with your voter registration form. Acceptable identification must include your name and the address at which you are registered to vote. Examples include:

  • A current and valid driver's license
  • State issued identification card
  • A current utility bill
  • A bank statement
  • A paycheck
  • A government check
  • Other government document showing your name and address

If you send in a copy of your identification with your mail-in voter registration form, it may not be returned to you. If you do not provide such identification, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires that you may only cast a provisional ballot which will be counted later, but only after your eligibility to vote has been determined.

If you provide your driver's license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number on the voter registration form and those numbers are verified, you will not have to provide identification when you register to vote or at the polls. If you do not provide those numbers or if they cannot be verified (you will notified by your town or city clerk if that happens), then you have to provide identification either at town or city hall prior to the election or at the polls when you vote. Acceptable identification is a copy of any of the following:

  • Current and valid photo identification
  • Government check or official document showing name and address
  • Current utility bill showing name and address
  • Paycheck or stub showing name and address

ID Needed for Voting?

If you are voting for the first time in MA in a federal election, are an inactive voter or are casting a provisional or challenged ballot, you may be asked to provide ID at the polls. You are also required to show an ID if you're voting for the first time in MA after registering by mail and did not include a copy of your ID in your mailed in registration form.

Acceptable forms of ID are:

  • Driver's license
  • State issued ID card
  • Recent utility bill
  • Rent receipt
  • Lease
  • Copy of voter registration affidavit
  • Any other printed ID that contains your name and address

 

Registration Deadline

You can now register online! If you have a valid driver's license, learner's permit or non-driver ID issues through the Massachusetts RMV you can register using this page. If you do not have these forms of ID you can still use this page to fill out your form, print and mail the application to the appropriate election official.

You must register to vote at least 20 days before an election, 10 days before a special town meeting.

Not registered? Use our registration tool to fill out your application!

Verify Voter Registration

To verify your voter registration status, please click here.

Absentee Ballot Process

You may vote by absentee ballot if you:

  • Will be absent from your city or town on Election Day
  • Have a physical disability that prevents your voting at the polling place
  • Cannot vote at the polls due to religious beliefs

You must be registered in order to vote absentee. You can fill out an absentee ballot request here. Overseas citizens and U.S. military personnel can find information on how to register to vote and request an absentee ballot at the Overseas Vote Foundation. To register for an absentee ballot, you must apply in writing to the city or town clerk or election commission, either in a letter or by filling out an application form. You must include your:

  • Name
  • Address as registered
  • during a primary the the party you want to vote for
  • Ward and precinct (if you know them)
  • Address where you wish the absentee ballot sent
  • Your signature

You can also receive an application form at your local election office or download the application online.

You can also download an absentee voting application in English or Spanish and mail it into your town clerks' office. Either way, the application must be filled out in writing and signed. If you are both applying and voting in person, the deadline for applying for an absentee ballot is 12:00 pm on the day before an election. Absentee ballots are generally available three weeks before an election.

If you wish to vote by absentee ballot for more than one election in a year, you may fill out one application and request that ballots for all elections during that calendar year be sent to you.

Note: If your address changes within a calendar year you must submit a new application for an absentee ballot.

If you are permanently disabled, you may file a doctor's letter with the local election office which states that you are permanently unable to vote at the polls due to a physical disability. The local election office will automatically mail you an application for an absentee ballot for all elections in a calendar year. You must sign the application and send it back to your local election official. Call your local election official for information about how to register to vote at home or to request that a mail-in registration form be sent to you.

Your absentee ballot must be sealed and returned in the brown envelope that was sent with the ballot. You must sign the brown envelope in the designated place and place it in the white envelope with green trim that also came with the absentee ballot. Your ballot does not have to be witnessed and if you cannot mark your absentee ballot, you may ask any person to help you. The helper must print his or her name and your name on the brown envelope, write the reason you needed help and then sign his or her name as the assisting person.

If you are in a nursing home you are able to vote by absentee ballot as long as you are not under a court ordered guardianship which specifically prohibits voting. If you are a patient in a nursing home, you must be a registered voter in order to vote by absentee ballot and must fill out an absentee ballot application. If the clerk designates a health care facility in writing 28 days before the election, the ballot must be hand-delivered to such facility by a registrar. If the you state that you have entered a hospital after 12:00 pm on the fifth day before the election the ballot may be hand-delivered to you; otherwise, the ballot should be mailed to the you at the facility. Consult the administration of the nursing home for further instructions.

Overseas and Military Voters

You are a Military or Overseas voter if you are in uniformed services, living overseas OR a spouse or dependant of a uniformed services voter. To get registered and vote, you can utilize Overseas Vote Foundation.

If you have additional questions about elections and voting overseas you can use our state specific elections official directory or contact the Overseas Vote Foundation.

Early Voting

Early voting is currently available in Massachusetts only for statewide general elections on even-numbered years.  When available, early voting begins 11 days before and ends 2 days before Election Day.

Election Dates

The next election date is Tuesday, September 4, 2018 (State Primary). The registration deadline is Wednesday, August 15, 2018.

For more information visit your election center or contact your local board of elections.

Poll Worker Information

In order to be a poll worker in Massachusetts:

  • You must be registered to vote in Massachusetts
  • You will be entitled to compensation
  • You must be at least 18 years of age
  • Political affiliation preferred
  • You must be a resident of the county or precinct
  • Two students who are 16 or 17 years old may be appointed if they meet all other voter requirements and get permission from a parent or principal

To sign up, contact your local board of elections.

Polling Place Hours

For all elections, except local elections, the polls must be open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. Some polling places may open earlier than 7:00 am. If you are in line at the polls by 8:00 pm, you are entitled to vote. For the polling hours in a local election please contact your local election officials.

Time Off To Vote

Voters employed in mechanical, manufacturing or mercantile businesses are allowed time off during the first two hours after the polls have opened only if an application for absence has been submitted.

Polling Place Locator

If you have questions on your polling place location, please contact your county clerk.

Provisional Voting

You may cast a provisional ballot if you run into the following situations at the polls.

Your name is not on the list. If you believe you're registered to vote, are at the correct polling place but your name does not appear on the voting list. You can ask the poll worker to contact the city or town hall to confirm your registration. If your registration is not verifiable, you may cast a provisional ballot.

Incorrect party enrollment. If you are voting in a party primary and believe that your party enrollment is incorrect as listed, you can vote a provisional ballot for the party you believe you are registered with.

Unable to provide ID. If you are not able to provide the proper ID, you may cast a provisional ballot. Your ballot will not be counted until you return with ID to the polling place or the office of your local election official by the close of polls.

Voting Machines

The voting systems used in Massachusetts are optical scan and hand counted paper ballots.

Optical Scan: With this system, you will receive a card or sheet of paper, which you take over to a private table or booth. The card has the names of the various candidates and ballot measures printed on it. With a pen or pencil you fill in a little box or circle or the space between two arrows. When you are finished filling out all the cards, you may bring the cards over to a ballot box, where poll workers will show you how to put the cards in the box. Or in some places, you may feed the completed cards or papers into a computer device that checks your card or paper right there at the polling place to make sure you have voted the way you want to and counts the votes.

Paper Ballots: Paper ballots are one of the oldest ways of voting in America. They are still used in a few places on Election Day. When you come to the polling place, you will get a paper ballot from the poll worker. You take it to the voting booth, and use a pen or pencil to mark a box next to your candidate and issue choices. You then drop the marked ballot into a sealed ballot box.

You can learn more about voting systems by checking out the Elections Assistance Commission's (EAC) resource.

Candidate and Ballot Measure Information

Information on local, state and federal candidates and ballot measures may be available here.

To see a list of available races, visit the race index.

Provisions for Voters with Disabilities

Polling places must be accessible to elderly and disabled voters. Federal law required polling places be accessible by 1986. If you are permanently physically disabled and cannot cast your vote at the polling place, you may file a letter from your physician with your city or town clerk, stating that you are permanently unable to cast your vote at the polling place because of physical disability. A completed application for an absentee ballot for you to sign and return will be mailed to you by the city or town clerk at least 28 days before every primary and general election.

For more information, you can utilize the American Association of People With Disabilities (AAPD) resource.

Campaign Finance Information

For information on federal campaign contributions, please visit Open Secrets.

For information on state campaign contributions, please visit your state's resource.


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Election Day Problems?

Call one of these hotlines:
1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)
1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español)
1-888-API-VOTE (Asian multilingual assistance)
1-844-418-1682 (Arabic)

 

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