Election Day is a time to make your voice heard in state and national politics.
On Nov. 8, Bay State voters will cast their ballots for president, vice president, and U.S. representatives. Voters will also elect representatives in state and local government and weigh in on ballot questions.
Whether you’re voting for the first time in Massachusetts or just want a refresher, the Secretary of the Commonwealth shares information on registering to vote, what to expect on Election Day, and more.
Can I Vote?
You must have registered by Oct. 19 and be at least 18 years old on Election Day to vote.
Not sure if you’re registered? You can check your registration status online.
Where Can I Vote?
Your polling place is determined by where you live. You can find your polling location and a list of currently elected officials online by entering your address.
When Can I Vote?
Poll hours are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. statewide, with some locations opening as early as 5:45 a.m. on Nov. 8. According to Massachusetts law, if you’re already in line when polls close, you must be allowed to vote. To find your polling location’s specific hours, contact your city or town’s election official.
Early voting will also be available this year for the first time in Massachusetts. In-person voting starts on Oct. 24 and end Nov. 4. You can search for your town’s early voting information at www.MassEarlyVote.com. You can also vote early by mail.
What Can I Expect When Voting?
When you arrive at your polling location, you’ll be guided through the voting process by poll workers:
- Provide Information to the Poll Worker — When you arrive, a poll worker will ask for your name and address. You may also be asked for identification. If your name isn’t on the list but you believe you have registered, or you’re listed incorrectly, you can cast a provisional ballot. Your vote will be counted if local election officials can confirm your registration later.
- Mark Your Voting Choices — You’ll be given a paper ballot and directed to a voting booth to mark your choices. You have the right to bring documents into the voting booth for help, such as sample ballots, voter guides, or campaign materials, but you have to take them with you when you leave.
- Deposit Your Ballot — After leaving the booth, you’ll give your name and address to a poll worker again. You’ll then put your ballot in a ballot box or a machine that will tally it.
What if I Need Help While Voting?
If you need voting assistance because you can’t read English or you have a disability, you can ask a friend, family member, or a poll worker for help at the booth.
Each polling location also has at least one accessible marking unit, called an AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal. The unit can give you audio cues, magnify your ballot, or read out your choices before printing your ballot, depending on your needs.
Can I Vote by Absentee Ballot?
Absentee ballots are available for certain Massachusetts voters who can’t make it to the polls on Election Day. There are a few reasons you can request an absentee ballot:
- You believe you’ll be away from your city or town on Election Day.
- You’re unable to visit polling places due to religious beliefs.
- You have a disability that prevents you from voting at a polling place.
How Do I Vote by Absentee Ballot?
If you want to vote by absentee ballot, you’ll need to take a few steps:
- Apply for an Absentee Ballot — To apply for an absentee ballot, fill out an absentee ballot application and mail it to your city or town hall. Applications are available online or at your local election office. The deadline to apply for absentee ballots is noon the day before the election, but you should apply early to allow for mailing times. You can also arrange to vote in the office of your local election official.
- Mark and Return Your Ballot — When you receive your ballot, follow the instructions to mark your choices, and put it back in the proper envelopes. Then, you can either mail it back to your city or town hall or deliver it in person to the local election official. All ballots must be received by the time polls close on Election Day to be counted. You can track the status of your absentee ballot online.
Now that you’ve learned about the voting process, you’ll know what to expect on Election Day. Make sure you’re ready for Nov. 8, 2016 — learn about each candidate and ballot question to become an informed voter and make your choice.
Have questions about voting? Ask us — comment below or tweet @MassGov.
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