Elections: Absentee Voting
Changes to Early and Absentee Voting 2021
Absentee & Early Voting
Voting by Mail in 2021
Currently, no-excuse voting by mail has been extended by the state law until June 30, 2021. No-excuse voting by mail is a type of early voting, and it is available for all elections held on or before June 30. If you are applying to vote by mail in a town election or special election being held on or before June 30, you may use the Vote by Mail Application (PDF) to request your ballot.
The Massachusetts Legislature is currently considering proposals that could make no-excuse voting by mail a permanent option for all elections. If you are interested in voting by mail in an election held after June 30, which includes most 2021 city elections, please check this page at a later date for updates on no-excuse voting by mail eligibility or read the information on absentee voting below to decide whether you qualify for an absentee ballot.
Absentee Ballot Eligibility
To qualify for an absentee ballot, you must:
- Be away from your city/town on Election Day; or
- Have a disability that keeps you from voting at your polling place; or
- Have a religious belief that prevents you from voting at your polling place on Election Day
For elections held through June 30, 2021, state law clarifies that any person taking precautions relating to COVID-19 qualifies for an absentee ballot by reason of physical disability.
Absentee vs. Early Voting
In Massachusetts, absentee voting is available in all elections, while early voting only in certain elections. The two systems overlap in several ways, but the most important difference is that absentee voters must have an excuse (listed above), while there is no excuse needed in order to vote early.
In elections in which early voting is available, there may still be certain circumstances when it would be appropriate to apply for an absentee ballot instead of an early ballot.
You should complete an absentee ballot application if you are:
- A military voter on active duty;
- A Massachusetts citizen residing outside of the United States;
- A voter who has been admitted to the hospital within 1 week of the election;
- A voter who has been quarantined within 1 week of the election;
- A voter who is incarcerated.
Applying for a Ballot
Absentee and early Vote by Mail ballots must be requested in writing at least 4 business days before Election Day. Applications are available for download below, but any written request is acceptable if it has your signature on it. For absentee ballot applications, a member of your family may also make the request on your behalf.
Applications can be submitted by mail, email, or fax. If you are emailing your application, you may either scan or take a photo of your signed application and email it to your local election office, or you may sign your application using a mouse, finger, or stylus and email the completed and signed attachment. Typed signatures are not acceptable.
If you are not able to print the application, you may request that one be mailed to you or you may write a letter to your local election official requesting your ballot. Make sure to include your name, your address, the place you would like the ballot mailed, and your signature. If you are requesting a primary ballot and you are unenrolled (independent), be sure to indicate which party's ballot you want to have mailed to you.
If you need an application mailed to you, you may contact the Elections Division at 1-800-462-VOTE (8683) or firstname.lastname@example.org or you may contact your local election office directly.
Find contact information for your local election official in our Directory.
Returning your Ballot
Ballots may be returned by mail or in person to your city/town hall. If your city/town has provided a secure ballot drop box, ballots can be submitted to that drop box.
Ballots must reach your local election office by the close of polls on Election Day in order to be counted.
Posted: to Town Clerk News on Mon, Mar 8, 2021
Updated: Tue, Mar 23, 2021