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Senator Rausch Explains Voting by Mail

Free, fair, open, and safely accessible elections are a central pillar of our democracy. In the midst of a global pandemic of epic proportions that renders traditional in-person voting a public safety concern, it is critically important that we protect both our communities’ health and our constitutional right to vote. That’s why I spent months on Beacon Hill advocating for robust mail-in voting this year. I’m glad we passed a law allowing every registered Massachusetts voter to cast their ballot by mail or safely vote in person, whether during early voting or on Election Day. Voting by mail was extremely popular for this year’s primary election, resulting in our highest turnout ever in a Massachusetts primary. As one of the foremost champions of election access in the Legislature, I hope this information will help empower every voter to cast their ballot in the November 3rd general election, whether by mail or in person. Comprehensive resources and links for online tools are available on my website: www.beccarauschma.com/2020-elections. 

Register to vote: You must be registered to vote in order to request a mail-in-ballot. You have until Saturday, October 24 to register in time for the November general election, but I urge you to register as soon as possible. Registering to vote and checking your registration status can be done online.

Eligibility to vote by mail: If you’re a registered voter, you can vote by mail in 2020! That’s it. No additional qualifications required. 

Get a vote by mail ballot application: Every registered voter should have received a vote-by-mail application before the primary. If you successfully applied to vote by mail for both the primary and the general, you do not need to reapply. (Skip to “Track your application” to confirm whether you applied for the general election too.) If you did not apply over the summer, or applied only for the primary, another mail-in ballot application for the general election should have been mailed to you. If you do not receive an application and wish to vote by mail, download the application or call 1-800-462-VOTE to request one be sent to your home. You can also write to your local election official requesting a mail-in-ballot if you include your full name, address, and signature.

Submit your application: Applications for mail-in voting are due back to your local clerk by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 28, but I recommend sending in your application as soon as possible. Submit your application by mail, email, or drop-off. If you mail it, do it now in order to leave plenty of time for the application to arrive by the deadline. No need to worry about postage; it’s prepaid on the application sent to you. If you submit the application ballot via email, make sure the application still has your signature on it.

Track your application: You can track the status of your mail-in voting application online. If your status is listed as “pending” then your application was received and your ballot should be on its way. Call your local clerk with any concerns.

Get your mail-in ballot: If you successfully applied to vote by mail, your ballot will be mailed to you. Ballots should start to arrive to voters in early to mid-October.

Complete and submit your ballot: First things first: read the instructions! If you’re voting by mail but receive an instruction sheet for absentee voting, ignore the part that says you should check to be sure you’re eligible; the eligibility requirements for voting absentee do not apply to voting by mail in 2020. Fill in the ovals on your ballot with a black pen or pencil. Remember to check the back side of your ballot and vote there too. Put your completed ballot inside the yellow ballot envelope. Seal the ballot envelope and complete the top portion of the exterior. Do not forget to sign the yellow envelope. If you do not receive a yellow envelope with your ballot, contact your local clerk. Put the signed and sealed ballot envelope inside the white mailing envelope and seal that one. Like the application, the ballot mailing envelope will be pre-addressed and postage prepaid. Your ballot must be mailed by election day (Tuesday, November 3) or you must place your ballot in the ballot drop box by 8 pm on Election Day. If you’re mailing it, do so as soon as you can to ensure your ballot arrives on time and will be counted. Your mailed ballot must be received by your local clerk by Friday, November 6 in order to be counted. The U.S. Postal Service has experienced delays, so pleasereturn your mail-in ballot early or use a drop box. Again, you can track your ballot online.

What about my “I voted” sticker?! Unfortunately, if you vote by mail, you’re probably not getting an “I voted” sticker this year. It’s disappointing, I know. It’s definitely one of my (and my four-year-old’s) favorite parts.

I want to change my mind: If you requested and received a mail-in ballot but decide not to use it, you can still vote in person. However, if your ballot has been received and processed by the clerk, you cannot vote in person. You can track the status of your mail in ballot online.

In-person early voting: Along with voting by mail, voters may also vote early in person, starting on Saturday, October 17 and running until Friday, October 30. Specific early voting schedules and locations will be posted online by Friday, October 9. You can also check with your local clerk for in-person early voting information. Wear a mask when you go to cast your vote.

In-person voting on Election Day: Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3. Make sure you know your polling place location. Wear a mask when you go to cast your vote.

I am so proud that Massachusetts voters have broader voting options and increased safety precautions for the upcoming election on November 3, 2020. I encourage everyone to vote by mail, whether you mail back your ballot or drop it off; if you choose to vote in person, please be diligent with your COVID-19 precautions -- wear a mask, keep your distance, and use hand sanitizer. Please visit www.beccarauschma.com/2020-elections for a detailed FAQ and email me directly at [email protected] with any specific questions or concerns. Happy voting, everyone!

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