Much of this information is from the office of the Secretary of State of Massachusetts. For additional information on voter registration, visit the Massachusetts secretary of state’s office website.
Voter Registration Deadlines
The deadline to register to vote in Massachusetts is:
- 20 days before all primaries and elections, and/or
- 10 days before a special town meeting.
If you are not sure if you are registered to vote, you can check your registration status online here.
Who can register to vote
To register to vote in Massachusetts you must be:
- a US citizen, and
- a resident of Massachusetts, and
- 18 years old on or before election day
There is no waiting period to register if you have just moved to Massachusetts.
Methods of Registering
Online Voter Registration: Massachusetts citizens can now register to vote online, part of the election reforms passed by the legislature in June 2014.
To register to vote online, go to the Secretary of State’s online voter registration site. You will need to have a Massachusetts driver’s license or state identification card issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles to use this online registration site. If you don’t have an RMV-issued ID or driver’s license, you can still use this site to fill out the voter registration form, then print it, sign it and bring or mail it to your local election office or town clerk.
You can also use this online site to change your name or address on your voter registration, or to change your political party enrollment.
Mail-in or In-person Voter Registration: Massachusetts citizens can download a Massachusetts voter registration form, fill it out, print it and sign it, then mail it to your local election official’s office. Download in: English, Spanish, or Chinese.
You can also pick up a registration form at your local election official’s office and at many Post Offices and libraries. You can request a form be mailed to you by calling 617-727-2828 or 1-800-462-VOTE or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mail the completed form to your local city or town hall. You should receive a confirmation notice in 2 to 3 weeks. If you do not receive a confirmation notice, or wish to confirm your voter registration status, contact your local City or Town Clerk to verify your voting status.
To register to vote in other states, use the National Voter Registration form.
To register in person, go to any registration location and complete an affidavit of registration. The questions on the affidavit will include your name, residence and date of birth. Click here for town clerk/city hall registration locations.
If you register to vote at the Registry of Motor Vehicles when you get a driver’s license, save your motor voter receipt until you receive confirmation from your local election official. If you do not receive any confirmation, please contact your local election office to verify your voting status.
How to fill out a paper voter registration form
Here is a line-by-line explanation of the paper voter registration form. Be sure to PRINT your answers:
- You MUST check the boxes on both questions that apply to you. If you answer “no” to either question, you are not eligible to register to vote and should not complete the form.
- Print your last name, first name, middle name or initial. Circle Miss, Ms., Mrs., Mr., and Jr., Sr., II, III, IV if applicable.
- If you have registered before and you have married and are now using your spouse’s name, or if you have legally changed your name, enter your former name.
- Write your full street address where you now live. Do not use a Post Office box number. If you live in a dormitory or shelter, you must give the street address and city or town, not just the name of the dorm or shelter.
- If you receive your mail at an address that is different than #4, such as a Post Office box or business location, enter that address so election officials can send you a notice that you are registered.
- Enter the month, the day, and the year you were born.
- Enter your Massachusetts driver’s license number. If you don’t have a current and valid Massachusetts driver’s license, enter the last four digits of your Social Security number. If this information can’t be verified at the Registry of Motor Vehicles or by the Commissioner of Social Security, or if you put “none” in this space, you must provide a copy of identification either by mail with this form or at your polling place the first time you vote. Accepted ID must have your name and current address such as: photo identification, utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document.
- You do NOT have to give your telephone number if you do not want to do so. If you enter a phone number and do not check “unlisted,” your phone number will be available to the public.
- If you want to enroll in one of the official political parties in Massachusetts, check one. If you do not want to enroll in a political party, check No Party (unenrolled). You can also write in a political designation as a member of a smaller political organization.
- If you were registered to vote at another address in Massachusetts or in another state, give the address where you were previously registered. If you have never registered before, leave this line blank.
- If you cannot sign this form, you may ask someone to help you and then have that person print their name and address. They do not have to include their telephone number.
- Read the oath. There is nothing to write on this line.
- Enter the date you fill out this form.
- Sign your name.
On the other side of the form, please fill in your name, street address, city or town, and your zip code in the left-hand corner.
Put the name of the city or town where you live and the zip code of the Board of Registrars or Election Commission, which is the same as your city or town hall.
Fold the form over along the dotted line and put a piece of tape on it to close it.
Either take the form to your local election office or put a first class stamp on it and mail the form.
What identification is needed
You may be asked to show identification when you check-in at your polling place for any of the following reasons:
- 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;
- The poll worker has a reasonable suspicion that leads them to request identification.
Acceptable identification must include your name and the address at which you are registering to vote, for example: a current and valid driver’s license, photo identification, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or other government document showing your name and address. Please note that passports, birth certificates, naturalization papers, and student IDs are not acceptable forms of identification because they do not include your address. If you register to vote by mail and attach a copy of your identification with your mail-in voter registration form, it may not be returned to you.
Under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, if you register to vote by mail, you will be required to show identification as described above when you vote for the first time in a federal election. If you do not provide such identification, the Help America Vote Act requires that you may only cast a provisional ballot which will be counted later, but only after your eligibility to vote has been determined.
Registering in special circumstances
If you are in the military or live overseas, you do not have to register in order to vote by absentee ballot. Detailed information on how to vote in these circumstances is available here.
If you need to keep your address confidential, Massachusetts law has established a program, Confidential Voter Registration, for individuals who wish to vote, but do not want their names and addresses to appear on voter lists. These protections enable survivors of domestic violence, stalking and abuse to register and vote while keeping certain information confidential.
In Massachusetts, voting lists are public information. Registered individuals’ names and addresses appear on voting rolls. If you are a confidential voter, your name and address do not appear on voting rolls and cannot be disclosed to any person.
Confidential voters are assigned a number, which appears on a certificate mailed to them. This same number will also appear in place of a name and address on the voter list. On Election Day, confidential voters present the mailed certificate, with their confidential voter number, to be matched with the number appearing on the voter list. No further identification is required.
Confidential voters may also vote absentee, if legally eligible to do so. This is done by using the confidential voter number in lieu of a name and address on the absentee ballot. Absentee confidential voters fill out the ballot and mail it, along with the certificate bearing their confidential voter number, to the registrar’s office.
To qualify as a confidential voter, you must provide one of the following to your local election office: a certified copy of a court order granting protection; a letter affirming your residence in a protective shelter, signed by the director of that shelter; or, an affidavit from the chief of police stating that you are entitled to confidential voter status.
If you have further questions about Confidential Voter Registration, call the Elections Division at 617-727-2828 or 1-800-462-VOTE.
For college students
If your family lives in another state and you attend college in Massachusetts, you may register in either state depending on which address you consider your residence for voting purposes.
If you attend college in another state but you consider your Massachusetts home address your residence for voting purposes, you may request that your city or town mail you an absentee ballot. While the deadline to request an absentee ballot is 12 noon on the day before the election, please be sure to allow enough time for the ballot to reach you and to be returned to your city or town by Election Day.
You may not be registered to vote in more than one place.
College students may register to vote in the city or town where they attend college and may use a dormitory address as their address. Follow the instructions above for obtaining a voter registration form. Note that, if you have a scholarship funded by a state, or a privately funded scholarship designated for a local student, you should check the terms of your scholarship before registering to vote in your college community. You could be considered as having changed your residence and, therefore, you could lose your eligibility for the scholarship.
Federal law requires that any person registering to vote by mail for the first time, or for the first time in a new state, must provide identification. Mail-in registration forms ask for either a Massachusetts driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number, and registrants are encouraged to enclose a copy of their identification with the form. First-time voters in Massachusetts should also bring some type of identification to their polling place when they go to vote. This does not need to be a photo identification card. 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; or any other official document bearing the voter’s name and address.
Please note that passports, birth certificates, naturalization papers, and student IDs without addresses are not acceptable forms of identification because they do not include your address. Many students get letters from their schools listing their student address as a valid form of identification.
When you should re-register
You must re-register to vote if you move to a new city or town. If you have moved within the same city or town, notify your local election office of your new address in writing. You must re-register before the voter registration deadline for the election.
If you do not re-register, your name will not be on the correct voting list in the correct precinct in your city or town. It is important to keep your address current with your local election office. If your name is not on the voting list when you go to vote, you will have to vote on a provisional ballot.