Vote By Mail

Thanks to the 2022 historic reforms of Massachusetts’ election laws, vote by mail is available in Massachusetts for state-wide primary and general elections.

Massachusetts now allows anyone to vote by mail without an excuse.  You have to apply for a mail ballot, which will be sent to you by local election officials. Then you must return the ballot.

The Secretary of State’s office sends a postcard application for a mail ballot to all registered voters 45 days before statewide elections.  If you want a mail ballot, fill in the application and mail it to your local election office.  For primary elections, if you are registered with a political party, you must request that party’s ballot.  If you are an unenrolled voter, you can request any party’s ballot.  You can use this application to request a mail ballot for every election in a calendar year.  You can also request that your ballot be sent to a different address, for example if you are a college student in a different state.  If you ask for a mail ballot for every election, that request is good through the calendar year, and must be repeated the next year. Note that mail ballots may not be available for local elections; check with your local election office.

You can also apply for a mail ballot online at

Before an election, check the application and return deadlines for mail ballots with your local election office.  Apply for a mail ballot well in advance of an election to allow time for your application to be received, for a ballot to be mailed to you, and for your ballot to be returned.

When you receive your mail ballot, fill it out, and put it in the yellow envelope.  You MUST sign the yellow envelope for your ballot to be accepted.  Then put the yellow envelope inside the white prepaid postage envelope.  You can mail the ballot, return it in person to your local election office, or deposit it in a ballot dropbox.  You can find ballot dropbox locations at  You cannot return a mail ballot to a polling place on Election Day; use a ballot dropbox.

You can track your mail ballot at

Your ballot must reach your local election office or be deposited in a ballot dropbox by close of polls on Election Day to be counted. The only exception is for ballots returned by mail in the biennial state election in November, when three extra days are allowed for ballots postmarked by Election Day to arrive in the mail.

You can still vote in person if:

  • You applied to vote by mail, but never returned your ballot.
  • You mailed your ballot back, but it hasn’t reached your local election office.
  • Your ballot was received by your local election office, but it was rejected.

You can’t vote in person if your ballot has reached your local election office and was accepted. Once your ballot is accepted, you have voted. 

No-excuse mail ballots have almost completely replaced absentee ballots in Massachusetts.  You might need an absentee ballot if you will be out of town for a local election when your town has opted out of mail voting, for example.  For information on when absentee ballots might be used and how to apply for one, see the Secretary of State’s website here.

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