Voting in Massachusetts
Voting in 2014 Primaries
Ballot access for major and minor party candidates
Absentee voting • Early voting
Open Primary • Closed Primary • Blanket Primary
Online voter registration in the 50 states
Massachusetts has a mixed primary system. Registered Democrats and Republicans can only vote for their own party in the primary but Independent voters may decide which party they would like to vote for.
To vote in Massachusetts, you must meet the following requirements:
- a US citizen, and
- a resident of Massachusetts, and
- 18 years old on or before election day (must still meet registration deadlines set forth below)
When and where
The deadline for registration is 20 days prior to the election. You can register to vote in the following ways:
- in person or by mail, by completing a mail-in registration form and delivering it to your city or town election office, or
- at any local election office in any city or town in the state and at any registration event you encounter anywhere in Massachusetts, or
- when applying for or renewing your driver's license at the Registry of Motor Vehicles or when applying for service at a designated voter registration agency. Registration forms are also available at all colleges, universities, high schools and vocational schools.
As of March 2014, Massachusetts is one of the 35 states that have not implemented online voter registration. Massachusetts had bills pending in the 2013 legislative session which would have authorized online voter registration. One bill was introduced in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. A separate bill was introduced in the Massachusetts Senate.
Voting on election day
Electors must present valid identification which must include the voter's name and address.
- See also: State Poll Opening and Closing Times
- See also: Absentee voting
You are eligible to vote absentee in an election if you cannot make it to the polls on election day for one of the following reasons:
- you will be absent from your city or town on election day, and/or
- you have a physical disability that prevents your voting at the polling place, and/or
- you cannot vote at the polls due to religious beliefs
To vote absentee a request must be received by noon on the day before the election. The ballot must then be returned by the close of polls on election day.
Military and overseas voting
For full details, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program here.
- See also: Early voting
Massachusetts is one of 8 states which allow early voting but require an excuse to vote early. Early voting begins as soon as absentee ballots become available.
To vote early you need to provide an excuse for why you will be unable to vote at the polls during normal voting hours. The following are valid reasons:
- you will be away from your city or town on election day
- you have a disability that prevents you from voting at the polls
- you cannot vote on election day due to religious beliefs
On January 16, 2014, the Massachusetts State Senate approved a significant overhaul to the state's voting laws. The legislation proposes to allow for no-excuse early voting to take place beginning 10 days before an election. The legislation will also create an online voter registration system and will allow residents to register to vote on election day.
The bill, H. 3788, passed the Senate by a 37-1 vote and moved to the House. Pending successful negotiations to reconcile H. 3788 with a similar bill passed by the House in 2013, Governor Deval Patrick has suggested he will sign the bill into law.
- Voter registration info
- Open States, H 581
- Open States, S 313
- Voter ID laws
- Massachusetts General Laws "Title 8 - Chapter 54 - Section 64," accessed January 3, 2014
- Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Website, "Absentee Ballot Information," accessed December 19, 2013
- Long Distance Voter, "Early Voting Rules: Massachusetts," accessed December 19, 2013
- ThinkProgress "Massachusetts on Cusp of Passing Major Voting Rights Expansion," January 17, 2014
- MassLive.com "Massachusetts Senate approves early voting bill," January 16, 2014
- The News Times "Mass. Senate approves bill to allow early voting," January 16, 2014