BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — With less than a month left until Election Day, voters in Massachusetts are still registering to cast their ballots on or before November 3rd. There are several ways to cast a vote, including turning up to the polls on Election Day.
Here is everything voters in the Commonwealth need to know about the final weeks ahead of the November general election.
Who/What is On The Ballot?
There are two questions on the ballot in Massachusetts this year; Question 1 is on the Right to Repair law, and Question 2 is on ranked-choice voting. There are also several positions also on the ballot;
The U.S. President/Vice President; Biden/Harris (Democratic,) Hawkins/Walker (Green-Rainbow,) Jorgensen/Cohen (Libertarian,) Trump/Pence (Republican.)
Senator in Congress; Ed Markey (Dem) Kevin O'Connor (Rep.)
Representatives in Congress;
1st District; Richard Neal (Dem.)
2nd District; Jim McGovern (Dem,) Tracy Lyn Lovvorn (Rep.)
3rd District: Lori Trahan (Dem.)
4th District: Jake Auchincloss (Dem,) Julie Hall (Rep.)
5th District: Katherine Clark (Dem,) Caroline Colarusso (Rep.)
6th District: Seth Moulton (Dem,) John Paul Moran (Rep.)
7th District: Ayanna Pressley (Dem,) Roy Owens (Independent.)
8th District: Stephen Lynch (Dem,) Jonathan Lott (Healthcare Environment Stability)
9th District: Bill Keating (Dem,) Helen Brady (Rep,) Michael Manley (Coach Team America.)
Other positions on the ballot: Councillors, Senator in General Court, Representative in General Court, Register of Probate, County Commissioner (Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Norfolk and Plymouth counties only), or Franklin Council of Government (Franklin County only) County Treasurer (Bristol, Dukes, Norfolk and Plymouth counties only) Sheriff (Norfolk County only – to fill a vacancy.)
Registering to Vote
Eligible voters have until October 24th to register to vote. Registrations to vote can be submitted through an online application, or it can be filled out in-person at most local town clerk's offices, and at the election division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office in Boston.
Voters can also register to vote by mail, which involves downloading and printing a voter registration form, completing and signing it, and ensuring it is submitted by mail and postmarked by October 24th.
How Do I Know If I'm Registered To Vote?
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 Connector, you will be automatically registered to vote, unless you opted out of registering.
If you did not opt out, and your citizenship is confirmed, then your name, address, and date of birth will be sent to your local election official to be added to the voter list, and you will receive mailed confirmation of your registration within two to three weeks. Certain voters will be required to submit a copy of their identification with their voter registration, or present it at their polling place on Election Day.
You can search for your voter registration status here.
Thousands of ballots have already been cast by mail in Massachusetts, and early voting by mail will continue through November 3rd. The state's in-person early voting period is Saturday October 17th through Friday October 30th.
During that period, any registered voter can go to any early-voting location in the town where they are registered to vote, and cast their ballot in-person with no excuse needed. Like polling places on Election Day, early voting locations will be set up to allow for social distancing.
Early voting locations and hours will differ by city and town, and schedules and locations for each municipality will be posted at www.MassEarlyVote.com no later than October 9th.
While the two systems of absentee voting and mail-in voting overlap in several ways, the most important difference is that absentee voters must have an excuse (listed below,) while there is no excuse needed in order to vote early by mail.
To qualify for an absentee ballot, voters must be away from their city/town on Election Day, or have a disability that keeps them from voting at their polling place, or have a religious belief that prevents them from voting at their polling place on Election Day.
Absentee ballots must be requested in writing and received at the latest by October 28th at 5 p.m. Applications are available for download, but any written request is acceptable if it has a voter's signature on it, or the signature of a member of their family who has making the request on their behalf.
Voters can have an absentee ballot application mailed to them by calling 1-800-462-VOTE (8683) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Voting By Mail
Voting by mail is available to all registered voters in Massachusetts for all elections in 2020. There is no excuse needed to vote by mail.
The first step to voting by mail is to complete a Vote by Mail application, either by printing out the paper form and mailing it back no later than October 20th, or through the new online Mail-in Ballot Application System.
Next, voters must deliver their application to their local election office by mail, hand-delivery, email, or fax, or submit their application through the online Mail-in Ballot Application System.
The United States Postal Services recommends that anyone who wants to vote by mail in the November general election have their application submitted no later that October 20th.
Finally, when the ballot arrives, voters must complete it and return it as soon as possible. It must be postmarked by Election Day, November 3rd, and it must be back at your local election office no later than November 6th.
Voting In-Person On Election Day
Election Day is Tuesday November 3rd, when all registered voters who have not voted early or by mail can show up in-person at their local polling place and cast their ballot.
All polling locations in Massachusetts will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Any voters in line by 8 p.m. will be eligible to stay in line and cast their ballot. Look up where you should go to vote on Election Day here.
All voters are encouraged to bring photo identification, which may be requested if you are voting for the first-time in Massachusetts in a federal election, you are an inactive voter, you are casting a provisional or challenged ballot, or if the poll worker has a reasonable suspicion that leads them to request identification.
Acceptable forms of identification, which must show your name and the address at which you are registered to vote, include; a Massachusetts driver's license or Massachusetts-issued ID card; a recent utility bill; a rent receipt; signed lease; a copy of a voter registration affidavit; or any other printed identification which contains the voter's name and address.
If you're a first-time voter who is unable to present ID when you check in, you may vote a provisional ballot and return with acceptable ID by close of polls. If you're asked for ID for any other reason, and are not able to present ID, you must still be permitted to vote; however, your ballot must be challenged. Your ballot will be cast normally, and will only be re-examined in the case of a recount, court order, or audit.
How Does COVID-19 Change Voting In Massachusetts?
In accordance with Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control guidance, Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin said all voters are advised to wear a mask or face covering in the polling place and while standing in line, if they are physically able to do so.
Voters who are not able to wear a mask will still be allowed to vote, with reasonable accommodations to ensure that they remain safely distanced from other voters and poll workers.
Poll workers are also being instructed to sanitize all commonly touched surfaces between uses. While pens will be provided to mark ballots, which will be frequently sanitized, voters may bring their own black pen to mark their ballot.
Any voter who is admitted to a healthcare facility or has been instructed by a health official to self-quarantine after Tuesday, October 27th due to COVID-19 can request an absentee ballot up until the time the polls close.
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