Massachusetts law about elections and voting

Laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on elections and voting law.

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Table of Contents

Best bet

Elections Division, Mass. Secretary of State.
Everything you need to know about the elections process, including:

  • How to register to vote
  • How to vote by absentee ballot
  • How to run for office
  • Ballot questions

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.10, § 42 State election campaign fund

MGL c.50 Elections, general provisions

MGL c.51 Voters and registration

MGL c.52 Political committees

MGL c.53 Nominations, primaries, initiatives

MGL c.54 Wards, voting districts and voting

MGL c.55 Campaign finance and disclosure

MGL c.56 Violations of election laws

MGL c.149, § 178 Time off to vote

Massachusetts regulations

950 CMR 46-60 Elections & voting

970 CMR Campaign finance

Federal laws

U.S. Code, Title 52 Voting and elections

18 U.S. Code Chapter 29 Elections and political activities (Crimes relating to)

Federal regulations

CFR, Title 11 Federal elections

Selected cases

Political parties

Changing political partiesMass. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Elections Division.
"[Y]ou may change your enrollment status by notifying your election official in writing at least 10 days before an election."

Directory of political parties and designationsMass. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Elections Division.

Election Advisory #20-12: Regarding electioneering, the 150-foot rule, and maintaining order in the polling place, Mass. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Elections Division (2020).
“No person or group of people may hold any campaign sign; wear any campaign buttons, clothing, or identifying signs or symbols” promoting any party, candidate, or ballot question within 150 feet of a polling location.

Web sources

Are cell phones/electronic devices allowed at polling locations?

Cities and towns may have rules about using electronic devices at polling locations. Please contact your local election office for information.

Election results archive (PD43+), Mass. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Elections Division.
A searchable database of Massachusetts historical and recent election results and statistics.

Federal Election Commission
Administers and enforces federal campaign finance laws. Includes a searchable database of who is giving what to whom and guidance in satisfying filing requirements.

How to run for officeMass. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Elections Division (3/2017).
"The information in this guide is general information regarding the process for running for office in state primaries and elections in Massachusetts"

Massachusetts, national popular vote compact, St.2010, c. 229
An agreement among a group of U.S. states and the District of Columbia to guarantee the presidency to the candidate who wins the popular vote. The compact would go into effect when the participating states have a total of 270 electoral votes.

Mass. Office of Campaign and Political Finance
Includes forms and guidance for filing under the campaign finance law. Provides instructions for obtaining public documents from the office.

Must employees be given time off work to vote?

Look at MGL c.149, § 178. This law was originally passed in 1887, and has been modified ten times, the most recent being in 1913.

The following is from Labor and Employment in Massachusetts: a guide to employment laws, regulations, and practices, 2nd edition, by Jeffrey L. Hirsch (Lexis, loose-leaf):

"Time Off to Vote

Massachusetts laws requires that employees who apply be granted a leave of absence to vote during the two hours after the polls open in their districts. Payment for voting time is at the discretion of the employer. Most employees have time to vote before or after work. One or two hours in most cases is the maximum time needed to vote. Employees should explain their reasons for needing more time and may also be requested to prove that they have voted by providing the name of the precinct where they cast their ballot."

Registering to vote, Mass. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Elections Division.

If you are a U.S. citizen applying for or renewing a driver's license or state ID at the RMV, or applying for health insurance through MassHealth or the Commonwealth Health Connecter, you will be automatically registered to vote, unless you opt out of registering.

State ballot question petitions, Mass. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Elections Division, January 2023.
How to get a question on the ballot.

State felon voting laws,
Information on each state’s lows on felon voting. Applications for re-enfranchisement and clemency are provided for the states requiring them.

Time off to vote 
See Massachusetts law about time off to vote

Voting and elections law and history, 
Presidential election process, Voting and election history, Voter ID requirements, Voting and election laws.

Voting as an ex-offender, Nonprofit
"This is a short up-to-date state guide to voting for ex-offenders."

Where do I vote?, Mass. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Elections Division.
Find your polling place in Massachusetts.

Print sources

America votes! : a guide to modern election law and voting rights, American Bar Association, 2020.

Election law in a nutshell, West Group, 2017.

Massachusetts election administration, campaign finance and lobbying law, MCLE, 2020.

Principles of the law, election administration, non-precinct voting and resolution of ballot-counting disputes / as adopted and promulgated by the American Law Institute at Washington, D.C., May 16, 2016; May 22, 2017. St. Paul, MN : American Law Institute Publishers, 2019.

Contact for Massachusetts law about elections and voting

Last updated: October 3, 2023

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