Voting by Mail Arrives in Massachusetts

Voting by Mail Arrives in Massachusetts

Town Hall Voting Drop Box

           

TRACK MY BALLOT -- Check here to see if your ballot been accepted to be counted?

Today, with the Covid-19 pandemic, we in Massachusetts could have faced a new threat to voting.  Thankfully, we will not be forced to choose between our health and the exercise of our precious voting rights in the upcoming primary on September 1 and the general election on November 3.  That is because the primary and election will be conducted under special rules set forth in An Act Relative to Voting Options in Response to COVID-19 (H. 4820)

 The Massachusetts League of Women Voters strongly supported passage of that new election law.  Now the Falmouth League has prepared this brief summary, hoping that it will help you, the voter, select the method that best suits you for participating in the fall election season.  You have several choices both for the primary and for the general election – 1) to vote early by mail 2) to vote early in person, 3) to cast an absentee ballot, or 4) to go to the polls on the days of the primary and election.  Make your choices based on your personal situation and preferences - but please, please, please be sure to vote. 

Summary of Main Provisions of the New Law

 Applications for mail-in early voting. Both for the fall primary and for the general election obtaining a ballot and voting by mail will be easier.  Most registered voters have already automatically received an application for an early-voting ballot with a postage-prepaid return envelope.  Ballot applications also are easy to obtain from various websites.  Indeed, any written request for a ballot is sufficient if it is signed and submitted to the town clerk’s office regardless of whether the voter uses an approved application form. 

Early-voting ballots.  After you submit your ballot application, you will receive your ballot in the mail.  After completing the ballot, you must return it . There are three ways to do this:  in person, by mailing the ballot in the postage-prepaid envelope you receive, or by depositing it in a secured municipal lockbox.   

Absentee Ballots.  Voters who have already applied to get absentee ballots for every election will receive them.   Generally, absentee voting remains available as before with some expansions to account for special health issues arising from the pandemic.

New computerized method for obtaining a ballot. The Secretary of State’s office will set up a web site for requesting either an early or an absentee ballot.  This system is supposed to be operational no later than October 1 for use in the general election and will provide a way to obtain a ballot on the web without submitting an application first. 

In-person early voting and election-day voting.  The new law provides for in-person early voting for the primary (August 22-28) and for the general election (October 17-30).  Both periods include some weekend hours.  Of course, polls also will be open for in-person voting on the days of the primary (September 1) and the general election (November 3).  

Relaxed rules for polling place operations and modernized ballot counting. New rules regarding poll workers and new rules for feeding ballots into the tabulators will help town clerks in preparing for, and in conducting, both the primary and the general election.  Our town clerks and their staffs will still be overburdened under the new laws but we hope these changes will ease their load a bit.  Among other things, the check-out desk may be eliminated so that you will just feed your completed ballot into the tabulator, feel good about voting, and go home. 

 

Important dates

Event

For September Primary

For General Election

Last day to register or change your registration

August 22

October 24

Early in-person voting

August 22-August 28

October 17–October 30

Applications for ballots must be received by the Town

Clerk’s office before 5PM on

August 26

October 28

Ballots must be received by the town clerk’s office by the time polls close on

September 1

 

           November 3

 

Exception: Ballots mailed by Sept. 3 must be received by Town Clerk’s office by 5PM on

Not applicable

November 6