Voting in Massachusetts

Voting in Massachusetts: Information about registering to vote, where to vote, absentee ballots, and student voting.
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Whether you need to know where to vote or require an absentee ballot, learn the details about voting in Massachusetts.

Voting is a civic duty and great opportunity to participate in the Commonwealth’s rich democracy. Learn more about registering to vote, where to go on Election Day, and how to cast an absentee ballot.

Registering to Vote

A sign displaying "register to vote here"

In order to register to vote, a person must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of Massachusetts, and 18 years old on or before Election Day. Voter registration forms are available in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

Completed voter registration forms should be delivered to a local election office, the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), or at most colleges, high schools, and vocational schools.

Alternatively, Massachusetts residents can register to vote is when applying for or renewing a driver’s license at the RMV.

Those seeking to confirm their voter status should contact their local City or Town Clerk to verify it before Election Day.

Residents must register 20 days before all primaries and elections, and 10 days before a special town hall meeting. For address changes within the same city or town, notify the local election office of the new address in writing; for moves to a new city or town, individuals must register again.

Where to Vote

Polling locations are organized geographically.

People who registered to vote after January 1, 2003 and weren’t asked to show identification at the time of registration will need it on Election Day. Acceptable forms of identification include:

  • A Massachusetts driver’s license or state ID card;
  • A utility bill;
  • A government-issued check;
  • A paycheck or paystub; and,
  • Any other official document bearing the voter’s name and address.

Passports, birth certificates, naturalization papers, and student IDs without addresses are not acceptable forms of identification. Contact a local election office to confirm an ID meets the requirements. 

Persons with disabilities are legally entitled to equal access at polling locations, including entrances, voting booths, and voting equipment. Every precinct must have at least one accessible voting machine available. Contact the Elections Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with questions or concerns.

Absentee Ballots

Residents can vote by absentee ballot if they will not be in town on Election Day, have a physical disability, or cannot go to the polls due to religious beliefs. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is noon the day before the election, although it is strongly advised that voters do so much earlier.

Voters can track their ballot online to ensure it has been safely delivered and counted.

It is also possible to vote absentee at a city or town hall up to three weeks before an election. Contact a local election office for details.

Voting for Military and Overseas Citizens

U.S. citizens living abroad and members of the armed forces are covered by the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). In Massachusetts, UOCAVA voters are eligible to vote in all elections. Additionally, they are considered “specially qualified,” and voter registration is waived.

To request an absentee ballot as a UOCAVA voter, use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) links to PDF file . It can be filled out online, or printed and returned to a local election office.

U.S. citizens who have never lived in the U.S. but have a parent who is eligible to vote in Massachusetts are eligible to vote at the same voting residence claimed by their parent for local, state and Federal office ballots. Absentee ballot applications may be made by a family member

For voters who have not received their ballots in time, a federal write-in absentee ballot links to PDF file may be completed and returned to a local election office.

Massachusetts allows a write-in ballot for all elections, even for voters who have not applied for a state absentee ballot.

Student Voters

Students from another state who live in Massachusetts while attending college can choose to register as a voter in their home state or in the Commonwealth. Students who choose to vote in their home state may request an absentee ballot from that state.

Students who want to register in Massachusetts must do so by 20 days before an election or town meeting, or 10 days before a special town meeting. On Election Day, student voters must bring an acceptable form of identification to the polls.

Students from Massachusetts that attend an out-of-state school may request an absentee ballot from the Commonwealth.