Everything you need to know about voting in the MA state primaries

It's election season, and Massachusetts residents can get in on the action in just over a week. In the Massachusetts primary election on Sept. 6, there will be five contested statewide races — four of which will see no incumbent running.

There's a lot at stake on the ballot this year, from governor and lieutenant governor to secretary of state, not to mention local representatives within various districts.

Beginning Aug. 27, voters can cast their vote at their town-specific location in the "early voting" window, which lasts until Sept. 2.

Barnstable Town Clerk Ann Quirk's office is filled with ballots for the Sept. 6 state primary election and also a pair of town councilor races as she readies for the fall election cycle.
Barnstable Town Clerk Ann Quirk's office is filled with ballots for the Sept. 6 state primary election and also a pair of town councilor races as she readies for the fall election cycle.

Barnstable Town Clerk Ann Quirk is in the process putting over 4,000 early voting requests into her system — and in doing so has a few tips for voters on the Cape.

Voters should verify what precinct they are in due to change in precinct boundary lines

Since the last election, Quirk said, precinct boundary lines have changed, which has led to a shift in the number of people included within each representative district.

"We need people to verify their precincts," Quirk said.

That verification can be done by going online to https://www.sec.state.ma.us/WhereDoIVoteMA/WhereDoIVote. Precinct maps are online on most town websites, along with sample ballots.

Voters should identify with one party to vote in the Sept. 6 primary

Even if you do not identify with a party, Quirk wants to remind voters that  to vote in the primaries, voters must choose one singular ballot. That means voters cannot request both a Republican and Democratic ballot. It's through the September primary election that candidates are determined for the general election in November.

Voters have until Aug. 27 to register to vote and to update any of their voter information for the state primaries.

Are you registered to vote? Here's how to find out

Again, it's a good idea to turn to the state website. Head online to https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleidx.htm. Find “Voter Resources," which is is your best friend for this exercise.

There’s a tab labeled “Am I registered to vote?” — hit that to fill in your name, date of birth and zip code. As soon as you hit “Search,” the site will work to find out if your voter information is in its database.

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Do you need to register to vote?

Are you a new voter? There are a couple of ways you can register.

If you are a Massachusetts resident who has conducted any transactions through the state Registry of Motor Vehicles, MassHealth or the Commonwealth Health Connector, and you did not opt out of registering to vote when conducting those transactions, then congrats! You’re automatically registered to vote and don't have to go through any more steps.

Do you want to register to vote online? Just do it be Aug. 27

You can easily register to vote online at https://www.sec.state.ma.us/OVR/. The system will allow you to register AND pre-register to vote, update your address, update your party affiliation, update your name and check your registration information. If you have moved since last voting and have not updated your new address, you must update it in order to vote. To vote on Sept. 6 in the state primaries, all changes must be made by midnight on the date of the voter registration deadline — Aug. 27.

Would you prefer to register to vote in person, or by mail?

In-person registration can be done at any local election office, at the Elections Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office, at the Registry of Motor Vehicles and at various public assistance agencies. Voter registration forms completed in person are valid the day they are signed.

Mailing in your registration means you must download the voter registration form, print it out, fill it out and deliver it to your local election official. The form can be found at https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/Voter-reg-mail-in.pdf.

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How do I find my local election office?

Your local election office on Cape Cod is your town clerk. For full information, you can look at https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleev/ev-find-my-election-office.htm.

Also, to find out where to vote go to https://www.sec.state.ma.us/WhereDoIVoteMA/WhereDoIVote.

Under the tab, “Voter Resources,” there’s a sub-tab labeled “Where do I vote?”), you can type in your Massachusetts residential address. Hit “Submit,” and on the screen there will be an address generated titled “Vote at the following location.” Below that will be your town clerk’s email address and phone number – if you have any questions, contacting your town clerk would be a beneficial step.

That same page will also let you know who your current elected officials are.

What if I want to vote by mail?

Don't want to go into an election office and vote? No problem.

In the state of Massachusetts, every voter is able to vote early by mail in every election — no excuse or explanation required. You just need to request a mail-in ballot. To do so, submit an application to your local election office. On Cape Cod, your local election office is the town clerk in the town where you are registered to vote.

Vote-by-mail applications are mailed in July and September to every voter in Massachusetts who has not already requested a mail-in ballot for fall elections. The application you receive will be pre-addressed to your local election office with prepaid postage.

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If you don’t want to wait to receive the application at either of those dates, you can download or print it from https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/Vote-by-Mail-Paper-Application-2022.pdf.

Any written request with your signature is technically an acceptable application. You could write a signed letter to your local election office to apply for your ballot by mail, email or fax (instead of with the official form). Just make sure that your application is signed in a way that can be compared to your hand-written signature (i.e. NO TYPED SIGNATURES).

Mail-in ballots must be requested in writing at least five business days before the election day. For the Sept. 6 Massachusetts state Primaries, you must apply for your mail-in ballot by Monday, Aug. 29.

What should you do with your mail-in ballot?

What to do with your mail-in ballot?

There are a few options.

Mail your ballot back using the envelope provided, hand-deliver your ballot to your local election office, drop your ballot off at an early voting location during early voting hours or use a ballot drop box in your town.

Find your local election office and ballot drop box here: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleev/ev-find-my-election-office.htm.

Learn more about early voting here: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleev/evidx.htm.

Every town will choose their own early voting locations and hours. Early voting schedules and locations will be posted at the state government link no later than five days before early voting begins at https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleev/evidx.htm.

Note that ballots cannot be dropped off at a polling place on Election Day.

In order for your vote to be counted in the Sept. 6 state primaries, your ballot has to reach your local election office by 8 p.m. on Election Day. The postmarked date does not matter in this case — the day your ballot reaches the office is what matters, not the date it was postmarked.

Do you have any other voting questions?

Call your local town clerk, or go online to your town's website to view precinct maps and sample ballots.

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Massachusetts state primaries: Here's all the answers about how to vote