Early Voting

Thanks to an historic law passed by the state legislature in 2014, early voting is now available in Massachusetts for biennial statewide elections.

The early voting period starts 11 business days preceding the election. Within that period, municipalities are required to have at least one voting site open during normal business hours, but many will hold late, early, and weekend hours as well.

Most city and town halls will be early voting locations, but if the town determines that the public will be better served by holding early voting elsewhere, they may designate another location as their main early voting location. Some cities and towns may also choose to have more than one early voting location. You may vote at any early voting location in your own city or town, regardless of where you live in the community.

You may vote early in person at any early voting location in your city or town, or you may choose to vote early by mail. If you would like to vote by mail, download the early voting application (en Español), complete the application, and mail it to your local election official. Ballots will be mailed out at the beginning of the early voting period. If you qualify to vote absentee, you may submit an absentee ballot application instead. Absentee ballots will be available by early October.

If you have any questions about early voting, please contact the Elections Division at 1-800-462-VOTE (8683) or 617-727-2828, or by e-mail at elections@sec.state.ma.us. For information on your community’s plans for early voting, contact your local election official.

Early Voting Challenge:  2016

Early voting helps Make Democracy Work by easing access to the ballot for Massachusetts voters, shortening lines at polling locations, and improving the voting experience. However, the new law left a lot of important decisions about early voting up to local officials.

In order to assure that the initial implementation of early voting was as strong as possible, the Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition, which includes the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, issued recommendations in early 2016 for implementing early voting in the state.

To encourage cities and towns to offer a robust early voting program, the coalition issued an Early Voting Challenge, with gold and silver “medals” to recognize communities which meet or exceed those recommendations. We asked local Leagues and concerned citizens throughout the state to contact their town and city election officials and asked them to offer night and weekend early voting hours, as well as multiple early voting locations for municipalities with over 35,000 residents.

We are happy to report that the Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition awarded 201 of the state’s 351 municipalities with Gold and Silver Medals for offering voters substantial early voting options.  And most, importantly, the state’s first early voting period was a huge success, with over 1 million ballots cast across the Commonwealth during the 2016 early voting period. This means that more than 22% of Massachusetts registered voters took advantage of early voting.

Early Voting Challenge in the news:

Read the press release from the October 19 Early Voting Challenge Award Ceremony.

Read the press release from the August 4 press conference to release the results of the coalition’s early voting survey.

Read early voting endorsement quotes.

Read the summary of the early voting survey results.

Read the coalition’s early voting principles.

Early Voting Challenge Toolkit:

Read the Election Modernization Coalition’s Recommendations for Early Voting

Print and read the Activist’s Toolkit for the Early Voting Challenge.  This comprehensive toolkit includes:

  • A 10-step process for volunteering overview
  • A one-page information sheet for you and elected officials
  • Talking points to use about the campaign
  • FAQs
  • Tips on How to Lobby
  • A Sample Letter to the Editor
  • A Sample Warrant Article (for towns)

Watch a video of an Early Voting Training session.

Contact your local election officials and let them know you want them to meet or exceed the coalition’s recommendations for early voting!

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