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How To Register To Vote

For more information call:
City Hall 322-5540 or (617) 727-2828 or 1-800-462-VOTE


Who may register to vote?

You must register if you want to vote.

Any citizen of the United States who is a Massachusetts resident and who will be 18 years old by election day may register to vote.

If you are 16 or 17 you may pre-register to vote!


How often must I register?

Just once. Registration is permanent in Massachusetts. You need to register, again only if you:
*move to another city or town within the county
*change your name
If you move within your community, notify your registrars of voters in writing.


When and where may I register?

There is no waiting period to be eligible to register. If you move, you may register to vote as soon as you move into your new home.

You may register at a registration agency, also city & town clerks or election commissions will register you in your city or town hall during regular business hours and during special registration sessions before elections. Mail-in registrations are available upon request. Students may register at their local high school.


Are there registration deadlines?

Yes. Registration is closed for a brief period before each election to allow election officials time to prepare the voting list. Closings occur:
*20 days before presidential primaries, regular state primaries, and regular state elections, city or town elections, town meetings, special primaries and special elections.
*10 days before a special town meeting.

If you register during a “closed” period, you will be eligible to vote only in later elections.


What if my name is not on the voting list?

If you have registered but your name has been omitted from the voting list, or is listed incorrectly, the election officer in charge of the polling place must call city hall to check your registration. If you are found to be correctly registered, you may vote.

If the election official is unable to confirm your registration, you should go to city hall. If your registration is correct, you may vote there immediately on an absentee ballot. You may, if you prefer, obtain a certificate from the registrar and return to your usual polling place to vote.


What if I am not allowed to vote?

If you claim the right to vote but are not allowed to vote, you must be allowed to mark an “provisional ballot”. These ballots will be kept in a separate envelope and will be counted if you are later found eligible to vote and if the election is close enough for these ballots to make a difference.


Reasons for voting absentee

You may vote absentee if you are registered and will be unable to vote at the polls on election day because of
*absence from your city or town
*physical disability
*religious beliefs
Illegal absentee voting is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to a year in prison.


Applying for an absentee ballot

You must apply for an absentee ballot from your city or town clerk no later than noon of the day before the election. Applications may be mailed or hand-delivered and you may use any form of written communication (letter or postcard), or the official application form.

If you are applying for an absentee ballot for a primary and are a registered independent or unregistered, indicate which party’s ballot you desire.

To be counted, a completed ballot must be received by the time the polls close on election day.


Applying to vote if you are absent from the state, in the armed services, or a prisoner

Registered and unregistered residents of Massachusetts outside the state and residents on active duty in the armed forces and merchant marine and their spouses or dependents, and prisoners, may vote absentee. They may request an absentee ballot from the city or town where they legally reside (if outside the U.S.), where they resided last before leaving). In addition, a close relative may apply on their behalf in person at their clerk’s or election commission’s office.

If you are applying for an absentee ballot for a primary and are a registered independent or unregistered, indicate which party’s ballot your desire.

A family member of a registered voter who is a student at a  college or university may apply for an absentee ballot on the student’s behalf, to the clerk or election commission of the city or town where the student is registered.

In all cases, unregistered voters must register when they return to the state, since this does not establish permanent registration.

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