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Voter Registration: Massachusetts

VOTER REGISTRATION

Registration Deadline: The deadline to register to vote in any election or regular town meeting is 20 days prior to the date of the election or meeting. The deadline to register to vote in a special town meeting is 10 days prior to the special town meeting.


Party Affiliation: When you register to vote, you may choose to enroll in a political party or political designation or may choose to remain “unenrolled,” which is commonly referred to as independent. If you do not enroll in a party, you may still vote in state and presidential primaries by choosing a party ballot and will remain unenrolled.


Once you make an enrollment choice you may change your enrollment status by notifying your election official in writing at least 20 days before an election.


If you enroll in any of these four parties (Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green-Rainbow) you may vote only in that party’s primary. Enrollment in a political party does not affect your right to vote in the general election. In the general election, all voters receive the same ballot and vote for the candidate of their choice, regardless of party enrollment.


 


VOTER REGISTRATION QUALIFICATIONS


Age: May be 16 years old to register. Must be 18 years old on Election Day to vote.


Citizenship: Must be a United States citizen


Residency: Must be a resident of Massachusetts. You must update your voter registration every time you move. If you have moved, you may update your registration by filling out a new voter registration form. If you move after the deadline to register to vote in a state election or primary, you should wait to update your registration until after the date of the election or primary, and return to vote at your previous polling place in Massachusetts. State law allows you to vote from a previous address in a state election for up to six month after you have moved, as long as you have not registered elsewhere.


Felony Convictions: Must not currently incarcerated by reason of a felony conviction


 


OBTAINING A VOTER REGISTRATION FORM


Online: In order to register to vote online, you must have a signature on file with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. If you currently have a Massachusetts driver's license or state ID card, you may use the online voter registration application to register, update your address, or change your party affiliation. Voter registration forms submitted online must be submitted by midnight on the date of the voter registration deadline.


In person: You may register in person at any local election office, as well as the Elections Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office. Voter registration is also available as part of every transaction at the Registry of Motor Vehicles and at certain public assistance agencies. Voter registration forms completed in-person are valid as of the day that they are signed.


By mail/ in writing: To obtain a mail-in registration form click here. The form must be completed, signed, and delivered to your local election official. Voter registration forms submitted by mail must be postmarked no later than the voter registration deadline.



VERIFYING YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION STATUS


 Verify here: voter registration status




ABSENTEE BALLOT QUALIFICATIONS


Who can vote absentee: In order to be eligible to vote by absentee ballot in Massachusetts, a voter must be prevented from voting at their polling place on Election Day, due to
- Absence from the voter's city or town on Election Day, or
- Physical disability, or
- Religious belief




OBTAINING AN ABSENTEE BALLOT


Absentee ballots must be requested in writing by either the voter or the voter's family member. Absentee Ballot Applications are available here. Any written communication evidencing a desire for an absentee ballot is acceptable as an alternative to filing the Absentee Ballot Application. If you would like to request an absentee ballot, you may submit an application or a signed letter to your local election official. If you are requesting an absentee ballot for a family member, be sure to submit the request to the voter's local election official.


When completing the application, you may indicate whether you are requesting a ballot for a specific election, or if you will be needing a ballot for all elections this year. Please note that absentee ballot applications expire at the end of each calendar year. If you are a voter with a permanent physical disability, you may file a note from your doctor to that effect with your local election official. Voters with permanent physical disabilities are sent completed applications at the beginning of each year, to be signed and returned to their local election official.


Absentee ballot applications must be received by your local election office by 12 p.m. on the day before the election, unless the day before the election is a holiday or a Sunday, in which case the application must be submitted by 5 p.m. on the last business day before the election.


Military and overseas voting: If you are a military or overseas voter, you are exempt from voter registration requirements in Massachusetts. In order to get your ballot, you simply need to submit an absentee ballot application.


Your absentee ballot application should be submitted to your local election official. Your absentee ballot application will be valid until December 31st of this year. Submit a new application each year in which you wish to vote.


The best application to use is the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), which is an application designed by the federal government specifically for military and overseas voters. Like other absentee voters, you also have the option of using the Massachusetts Absentee Ballot Application or any other written request for an absentee ballot.

Applications may be submitted by mail, e-mail, or fax. Your local election official must be able to view your hand-written signature. For e-mailed applications, you must submit a scan or other image of your application.

For federal elections, you can choose to receive your ballot by e-mail, fax, or mail. There is a space on the FPCA in which you can indicate how you would like to receive your ballot. For federal elections, you may choose to return your ballot by mail, fax, or e-mail.

For city and town elections, you will receive your ballot by mail. If you do not receive your ballot in time, you have the option of submitting a
Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) by e-mail or fax.


For deadlines for returning the ballot, click here




SUBMITTING AN ABSENTEE BALLOT


If you are voting by mail, you should be sure to submit your application in a timely manner. Please allow enough time for the ballot to be mailed to you and for you to return the ballot by Election Day. All ballots being mailed from inside the United States must be received by your local election official no later than the close of polls on Election Day.


If you would like to vote in person, you may do so in the office of your local election official. In-person absentee voting should be arranged ahead of time.


 


VOTING ON ELECTION DAY


In all state elections and primaries, polling places must be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m., though towns are allowed to open as early as 5:45 a.m. Voters who are in line when polls are closed at 8 p.m. must be allowed to vote. For municipal elections, polling hours will vary by city and town. Check with your local election official for polling hours for your municipal election.


You may be asked to show identification when you check-in at your polling place for any of the following reasons:
-You are voting for the first time in Massachusetts in a federal election
-You are an inactive voter
-You are casting a provisional or challenged ballot
-The poll worker has a reasonable suspicion that leads them to request identification


Acceptable identification must include your name and the address at which you are registered to vote. Examples of acceptable identification include: a driver's license, state-issued ID card, recent utility bill, rent receipt, lease, a copy of a voter registration affidavit, or any other printed identification which contains the voter's name and address.


 


INACTIVE VOTERS


On Election Day, some voters may find that their names have been placed on the list of inactive voters. The inactive voters list is made up of registered voters who have not responded to the annual street list or subsequent confirmation notice. Inactive voters may still vote, but will first be asked to show identification and will be required to fill out an affirmation of current and continuous residence.


For more information click here


PROVISIONAL VOTING


Voters who find that they are not on the list where they believe they are registered to vote, or find that they are listed incorrectly, have the right to cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are sealed in an envelope and kept separately from other ballots until the voter's eligibility can be determined. If a provisional voter is determined to be registered, their ballot is unsealed and counted; if the voter is determined to be ineligible to vote, the ballot is destroyed without being examined.

State law requires that local election officials resolve all provisional ballots within three days of a state or presidential primary and within twelve days of a state or local election. All provisional ballots are investigated and those found to be cast by eligible voters are counted, no matter how close the election may be.

After Election Day, you may contact the Elections Division at 1-800-462-VOTE (8683) to determine the disposition of your ballot.


For more information click here


 


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION


Deciding how to vote: https://votesmart.org/


Polling Place: Click here


Tracking your mail-in ballot: Click here

Problems with voting: If you feel that your right to vote has been violated in any way, call the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Elections Division at 1-800-462-VOTE (8683)

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