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The November elections are fast approaching and the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is warning consumers about the risks of Election Season scams.

Scams can include scammers posing as representatives of a political campaign soliciting donations; scammers posing as election officials looking to verify registration status; or scammers offering residents an opportunity to vote over the phone, among others.

Election laws and rules can be confusing, so we’ve put together some information to help:

Who can vote?election day

Before you can register to vote, you must be eligible. You may submit an application to register or pre-register to vote in Massachusetts if:

  • You are a citizen of the United States; you are 16 years old; and you are not currently incarcerated for a felony conviction.

If you meet all three of the above requirements, you may apply online, by mail, or in-person. Remember, you can pre-register at age 16, but you cannot vote until age 18.

How do I register to vote?

If someone calls you and offers to register you to vote or confirm your voter registration over the phone, it’s a scam. Massachusetts law allows residents to register to vote in three ways:

  • Online: You may register to vote online as long as you have a valid Massachusetts driver’s license or state ID card and a signature on file with the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
  • By Mail: You may obtain a voter registration form and deliver it to your local election official.
  • In-Person: If you would like to register in-person, you may do so 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.

Scammers may try to tell you there is a problem with your registration status or they’re looking to clarify information or that you need to be registered to avoid getting in trouble.  Your local election official can clarify any questions about your registration status.

It’s also important to remember there are deadlines for voter registration. If someone tells you they can register you after the deadline, don’t believe them.

How do I vote?

You may vote in-person on Election Day at your local polling location or by absentee ballot. You can also vote early at any early voting location in your community until November 4th. Find out more about early voting here. You cannot vote over the phone.

How do I donate to a candidate?

If you wish to donate to a campaign, our Office suggests visiting the official campaign website or attending an official fundraising event. Most campaigns or Political Action Committees (PACS) have means to donate online or by phone.  There are many ways campaigns and PACS are allowed to solicit contributions, such as over the phone, in-person, door-to-door, and via email.  Before you donate, confirm the campaign is legitimate. Keep in mind, there are rules that campaigns and PACs must follow with regard to contributions, such as filing and disclosure requirements and annual campaign contribution limits. Your local election office, the Office of Campaign and Personal Finance (for state or local elections) or the Federal Elections Commission (for federal elections) are excellent resources for questions and concerns about the legitimacy of a campaign.

Voting in Massachusetts is regulated by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. For more information on voting or information concerning what to expect on Election Day, visit the official website.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757 Monday through Friday from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education.

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