Thank you for your strong advocacy for the expansion of voting rights and the ability to vote by mail during COVID-19.
I’m delighted to tell you that this week the Governor signed An Act relative to voting options in response to COVID-19 and it’s now law.
While I believe there is still much more we should do to increase access and strengthen voting rights, I wanted to make sure you had a summary of this important legislation. Let me say how thankful I am for the tireless efforts of town and city clerks in our district. They are the real voting rights champions in our midst!
Early voting by mail applications will be available
By July 15, 2020, the Secretary of State will mail to all registered voters an application to vote early by mail in the September 1, 2020 state primary election along with a return envelope with postage prepaid. You can also download now and return your vote by mail request, here: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/2020-Vote-by-Mail-Application.pdf
By September 14, 2020, the Secretary of State will mail to all registered voters an application to vote early by mail in the November 3, 2020 state general election and a prepaid return envelope.
The deadline to apply to early vote by mail in the primary will be 6 days before the primary—Wednesday, August 26, 2020.
The deadline to apply to early vote by mail in the general will be 6 days before the general—Wednesday, October 28, 2020.
Voters may also apply to vote early by mail through an online portal that will be set up soon through the Secretary of State’s website.
Early voting by mail
The city or town clerk will mail an early voting by mail ballot and an envelope with return postage prepaid to voters who apply.
Voters may return their early voting by mail ballot in the mail, in a secure drop box, or in person. There is an online tracker so you can confirm that your ballot was accepted and counted.
The deadline to submit early voting by mail ballots will be the close of polls on primary and election day. Ballots mailed by election day, however, will be counted until 5 p.m. on Friday, November 6.
The bill provides for absentee voting by any person taking precautions related to COVID-19. You can download an absentee ballot application here.
Safer in person voting
In consultation with the Commissioner of Public Health, the Secretary of State will promulgate emergency regulations requiring public health safeguards for in person voting, including social distancing of voters and election officers; face coverings and personal protective equipment; frequent use of sanitizers; and sanitary use of marking pens.
Early voting in person
There will be 7 days of in person early voting in the primary—from Saturday, August 22 to Friday, August 28—including one weekend.
There will be 14 days of in person early voting in the general—from Saturday, October 17 to Friday, October 30—including two weekends.
Voters may still cast a ballot at the polls on election day.
The bill provides for early voting by mail for any city or town elections held at the same time as the primary or general or on or before December 31, 2020.
Accessibility and equity
The bill provides for accessible voting options for persons with disabilities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and national standards.
Municipalities must evaluate and report any disparate adverse impact on polling place accessibility on the basis of race, national origin, disability, and income or age to change a polling location.
As always, please feel free to contact me at Jo.Comerford@masenate.gov with any questions or concerns.