How to Vote in the Massachusetts 2022 Elections

Posted on 06/22/22 by Natalie Missakian, Elissa Chudwin

En español | The Massachusetts Sept. 6 primary will determine which candidates appear on November’s general election ballot for governor, the U.S. House of Representatives, state legislature and other statewide races.  

What's new this year?

Voting in the 2022 elections has changed in several ways. A new law established no-excuse mail voting, extended the voter registration window and expanded early voting with required weekend hours. The law also mandates prepaid postage for vote-by-mail applications and ballots, among other changes.

Massachusetts’ new redistricting plan has altered certain boundaries of state legislative and U.S. congressional districts, which may affect which candidates appear on your ballot.

Essential info:

  • Mail voting: All registered voters may now vote by mail without an excuse, thanks to new legislation. Voters who haven’t already requested an absentee or mail ballot will be mailed an application in July for any upcoming election this year and again in September for the general election.
  • Early in-person voting: Vote early from Aug. 27 through Sept. 2 for the primary and Oct. 22 through Nov. 4 for the general election at your local election office or another early voting site. The new law makes weekend voting hours mandatory.
  • In-person voting on Election Day: The primary is Tuesday, Sept. 6. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. All polls must be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. but may open earlier. Check with your local election office.
Voters In Super Tuesday States Cast Their Ballots


How do I register to vote?

  • Online: If you have a Massachusetts driver’s license or state ID card, you can register online through the state’s voter registration system. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 27 for the primary and 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 29 for the general election.
  • By mail: Download a registration form, complete it and mail it to your local election office. Or call your local election office or the state elections division and request a form be mailed to you. Your form must be postmarked by Aug. 27 for the primary and by Oct. 29 for the general election. 
  • In person: Go to your local election office during normal business hours to register or update your information by 5 p.m. on Aug. 27 for the primary and Oct. 29 for the general election.

You’ll be automatically registered to vote at the registry of motor vehicles if you apply for or renew a license unless you opt out. You’ll also be automatically registered if you apply for state health insurance through MassHealth or the Massachusetts Health Connector, the state’s health insurance exchange.

Check your registration status using the state’s online voter portal.

Does my party affiliation matter when I vote in the primaries?

Yes. If you register as a Democrat or Republican, you can only vote in that party’s primary. If you’re not enrolled in a party, you can choose either party’s ballot and will continue to be listed as an unenrolled voter in future elections.

How can I get a mail ballot? Are there important deadlines?

A new law allows every registered voter in Massachusetts to vote by mail without an excuse.

Request a mail ballot online, by mail or in person. Registered voters who do not request a mail ballot will automatically be sent a pre-addressed, prepaid application in July for any election and in September for the general election.

  • Online: Print and complete an application form. Email or fax it to your local election office by 5 p.m. on Aug. 29 for the primary and by 5 p.m. Nov. 1 for the general election. Include your name, address and where you’d like the ballot mailed. If you’re an independent voter, choose which party’s ballot you’d like for the primary. Your form also must be signed or include a photocopy of your signature – not a typed signature.
  • By mail: Complete an application form you downloaded and printed. Or fill out the prepaid, pre-addressed application form you received in the mail. Mail your completed form to your local election office, which must receive your request by 5 p.m. on Aug. 29 for the primary and by 5 p.m. Nov. 1 for the general election. You’re encouraged to apply at least two weeks before Election Day to allow for postal delays. 
  • In person: Hand-deliver your completed application form to your local election office by 5 p.m. on Aug. 29 for the primary and by 5 p.m. Nov. 1 for the general election.

U.S. citizens living overseas, active military members, incarcerated residents without a felony conviction and voters who are hospitalized and need an emergency absentee ballot should still request an absentee ballot. Go to the secretary of the commonwealth’s website to download and complete an absentee ballot form.

How do I return my mail ballot?

Return your completed ballot by mail or in person. 

  • By mail: Mail your ballot to your local election office. Prepaid postage is provided. A new law allows ballots to be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11, as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day.
  • In person: You or anyone living in your household can hand-deliver your mail ballot to your local election office or early voting location, or place your ballot in a secure ballot drop box by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

If you’ve been admitted to a health care facility within a week of the election, you can designate someone to pick up an absentee ballot and return it for you before polls close.

Note that you can’t drop off your ballot at a polling place on Election Day. You’ll either be directed to your nearest election office or drop box. You may also cancel your ballot and vote in person. 

Track your ballot through the secretary of the commonwealth’s website

 

Can I vote in person before Election Day?

Early, in-person voting will now be offered from Aug. 27 through Sept. 2 for the primary and Oct. 22 through Nov. 4 for the general election at your local election office or another early voting site. Every city and town is required to offer weekend voting hours. Contact your local election office for hours and locations.

 

When is Election Day? When are polls open?

The state's primary election is Tuesday, Sept. 6, and the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls must be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., but some may open earlier. Check with your local election office.

If you were in line before the polls closed, you’ll still be allowed to vote.

Use the state’s voting portal to find your polling place.

Do I need identification to vote?

If you’re a first-time Massachusetts voter who registered by mail, or if you’re an inactive voter who didn’t respond to your annual city or town census to confirm your address, you may be asked to show an ID that proves your name and address, such as a driver’s license, utility bill or bank statement.

If you’re a first-time voter without ID, you can cast a provisional ballot. Your vote will be counted if you return with identification before the polls close.

If your name is on the inactive voter list, you can cast a challenged ballot that will be re-examined only if there’s a recount, court order or audit.

What races are on the ballot?

  • U.S. House: all 9 seats
  • State House: all 160 seats
  • State Senate: all 40 seats
  • Governor, Lt. Governor and other statewide races

Editor’s note: This guide was updated on June 22 with information about changes to voting in 2022. The guide was first published on Aug. 18, 2020.

Also of Interest:

This story is provided by AARP Massachusetts. Visit the AARP Massachusetts page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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