Politics

How to get, return, and track your ballot

Mail-in ballots can be dropped off at your local election office, a drop box, or an early voting location.

A voter casts their ballot at a vote by mail dropbox at Boston City Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and outspoken progressive Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez put their political clout to the test in a Massachusetts Democratic primary Tuesday that flips the usual battle lines between the party’s establishment and left wings. Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg Scott Eisen / Bloomberg

Gov. Charlie Baker signed legislation into law expanding both early and mail-in voting options due to the coronavirus pandemic ahead of the state’s primary and general elections.

In Massachusetts, voters using mail-in ballots can personally deliver ballots in addition to mailing them in, according to Secretary of State William F. Galvin’s office. Here’s how to obtain, return, and track your mail-in ballots.

When is the deadline to register to vote?

The deadline to register to vote in Massachusetts for the Nov. 3 general election is Saturday, Oct. 24. You can register online here. Not sure whether you are registered? You can find out here

How do I get a mail-in ballot?

Vote-by-mail is available to all voters in 2020, and a reason is not needed. You first need to complete a vote-by-mail application using either a paper form or the new mail-in ballot application system

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You can deliver the application to your local election office by hand, mail, email, or fax, or you can submit your application through the mail-in ballot application system. 

You need to submit your application for a November ballot by Tuesday, Oct. 20. Applications received after Wednesday, Oct. 28, will not be accepted.

Do I need an ID to get a mail-in ballot?

You might, if you are a first-time voter in Massachusetts.

“First time voters in Massachusetts are sometimes required by federal law to present ID showing their name and the address where they registered to vote,” according to Galvin’s office.

If you do, your local election official will send a notice with your ballot. You’ll need to send a copy of your ID on the outside of the ballot envelope since the envelope can’t be opened until it’s time to count the ballots.

How do I return my ballot?

By mail or in person. If you are returning it by mail, use the pre-addressed, pre-stamped return envelope provided with the ballot. 

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If you are delivering the ballot in person, you can drop it off at your local election office, at an official ballot return drop box, or at an early voting location in your city or town. Ballots cannot be emailed or faxed.

Where can I find an official ballot drop box?

The following are the locations of the 17 drop boxes in Boston, available through Nov. 3:

  • Boston City Hall, 1 City Hall Square, Boston (City Hall Plaza entrance, third floor)
  • Boston City Hall, 1 City Hall Square, Boston (Congress Street entrance, first floor)
  • East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library, 365 Bremen St, East Boston
  • Charlestown Branch of the Boston Public Library, 179 Main St, Charlestown
  • South Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library, 646 East Broadway, South Boston
  • Central Library of the Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street, Boston
  • Honan-Allston Branch of the Boston Public Library, 300 North Harvard St, Allston
  • Brighton Branch of the Boston Public Library, 40 Academy Hill Rd, Brighton
  • Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library, 149 Dudley Street, Roxbury
  • Fields Corner Branch of the Boston Public Library, 1520 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester
  • Jamaica Plain Branch of the Boston Public Library, 30 South Street, Jamaica Plain
  • Mattapan Branch of the Boston Public Library, 1350 Blue Hill Ave, Mattapan
  • West Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library, 1961 Centre St, West Roxbury
  • Hyde Park Branch of the Boston Public Library, 35 Harvard Ave, Hyde Park
  • Parker Hill Branch of the Boston Public Library, 1497 Tremont St, Roxbury
  • BCYF Menino, 125 Brookway Rd, Roslindale
  • Grove Hall Branch of the Boston Public Library, 41 Geneva Ave, Dorchester

Voters who live outside of Boston can find drop box locations in other Massachusetts cities and towns here.

When does the ballot have to be returned?

Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, Nov. 3, and must be at your local election office by Friday, Nov. 6. 

Those hand-delivering their state election ballot to either the local election office or a secure drop box must do so by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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Ballots arriving from outside the country must be received by Friday, Nov. 13, and postmarked by Election Day.

When does early voting begin?

Early voting is available by mail and in person for all registered voters. You can vote in person between Oct. 17-30. 

Find early voting locations and schedules for each city and town here.

Where is my election office?

For those hand-delivering mail-in ballots, the Boston election office is in City Hall, Room 241. For those mailing their ballots in Boston, the address is as follows:

Elections Department
One City Hall Square
Room 241
Boston, MA 02201

Those who live outside of Boston can find the address of your local election office here.

Can I track my ballot?

Yes, you can track your ballot at TrackMyBallotMA.com. You’ll have access to the following information: whether your application has been received, the date your ballot is mailed, the date your ballot is received at your local election office, and whether your ballot has been accepted or rejected.

What if I’m worried that my ballot will not arrive in time to be counted?

Consider hand-delivering your ballot or voting in person.

How do I know my ballot was counted?

Your ballot will be counted in a public space, either at your polling place or at a central tabulation facility in your city or town, according to Galvin’s office.

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You can confirm that your ballot was accepted here.

If I voted by mail, can I change my mind and vote in person?

Maybe. If your mail-in ballot has already been accepted by your local election office, then your ballot is considered to be cast and you can’t vote again. But if your ballot never reached your local election office, or if it was rejected, then you can vote in person. 

Why was my ballot rejected?

You probably didn’t sign the affidavit on your ballot envelope. You’ll be notified by your local election official if your ballot is rejected along with the reason why, and you’ll be sent a new ballot if there is time.

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You also have the option of voting in person before 8 p.m. on Election Day.

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