On Election Day

Where do I vote?

To find your polling place, you can go to the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s website and enter your address on the form here. You can also call the state Elections Division at 1-800-462-VOTE (8683) or 617-727-2828 to find out where your polling place is located.   Or you can call your town or city clerk’s office for information about polling place locations.  Look up phone numbers for those offices here.

All polling places are required by federal and state law to be accessible to elderly and disabled voters.

When are the polls open?

For state and federal elections, polling places open at 7 a.m. and close at 8  p.m.  Any voters who are in line by the closing time must be allowed to cast their ballots.

For most city and town elections, those hours also apply, but voters should check with their city or town clerk to be sure.

What should I bring to vote?

In general, you do not need to show any form of identification to vote in Massachusetts.

The exception is if you are voting for the first time or for the first time in a new polling place.  If you registered to vote by mail and did not send in a copy of your identification with your voter registration form, or if you registered during a third-party voter registration drive, you will be required to show identification when you vote for the first time.

You have the right to vote but must also show identification if your name is on the inactive voter list or your vote is being challenged or if requested by a poll worker.

Acceptable identification must include your name and the address at which you are registered 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. If you send in a copy of your identification with your mail-in voter registration form, it may not be returned to you.

If you do not provide such identification, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires that you may only cast a provisional ballot (see below) which will be counted later, but only after your eligibility to vote has been determined

Can I bring notes on how I wish to vote?

Yes, but be sure not to leave those notes in the voting booth.  You can bring preprinted brochures or pamphlets, or your own notes, but you cannot display such materials while in the polling location.

How do I find out what’s on the ballot?

Sample ballots are available in your city or town clerk’s office before the election, showing all candidates and any ballot questions on the ballot.  Some towns also post these sample ballots on their websites.  You can view a sample ballot at the Elections Division website: www.wheredoivotema.com.

The Secretary of State’s office sends information on statewide ballot questions to all households before an election, and information on those ballot questions is also available here.

What happens when I get to the polls to vote?

In Massachusetts, every voter casts a paper ballot. Upon entering the polling place, each voter must give their address and name so the poll worker can check it off the list before giving you a ballot. Once you get your ballot, you go to a booth where you mark your choices for the candidates for offices and ballot questions. After marking your ballot, you must check-out by providing your address and name again before depositing your ballot into the either the ballot box or tabulator.  If you need assistance because of vision impairment, disability, inability to read or to read English, you may seek help from either a person of your choice or from election officials.

If you make a mistake on your ballot, you may request a new one. You may request up to two new ballots.

If you registered to vote, but your name is not on the voting list, ask the election officer in charge of the polling place to check your registration by looking at the inactive voter’s list and by checking to see if you may be  registered in another precinct in that municipality.

If they still cannot find your name, you may go to city or town hall to attempt to establish your identity as a registered voter or you may cast a provisional ballot at the polling place.

What is a provisional ballot and how does it work?

You have the right to cast a provisional ballot if you believe you are a qualified registered voter but a poll worker tells you that you are ineligible to vote.

To cast a provisional ballot, you must execute a provisional ballot affirmation before a precinct officer at the polling place declaring that you are a registered voter in the city or town and reside within the geographical boundaries of said precinct. You must also show suitable identification, which must show your name and address, such as a copy of a current and valid photo identification, current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document. You have until the close of the polls on Election Day to bring suitable identification.

Once you have completed the affidavit, a poll worker will put a number on your provisional ballot envelope and on the roster, mark the ballot with the word “provisional” and hand you the ballot with the provisional ballot envelope. You will cast your vote on this ballot, seal it in the envelope, and hand it back to a poll worker. You will receive an information sheet telling you how you can find out if your ballot was counted.

A provisional ballot will be counted if your voter eligibility is verified. If your eligibility cannot be confirmed, your ballot will remain sealed in an envelope until such time as it is required to be kept and then will be destroyed without being viewed.  To find out if your provisional ballot was counted, call the Elections Division at 1-800-462-8683 or 1- 617-727-2828, or ask your local election official. The information will be available seven days after a primary election and 20 days after a general election.

Who do I call if I have a problem voting?

If you feel that your right to vote has been violated in any way, call the Elections Division at 1-800-462-VOTE (8683). This call is free within Massachusetts.

You can also ask to speak with your town election officials.