As you prepare to head to the polls — or mail-in your ballot — on or before this year's election on November 3rd, it's important to know your rights as a voter. Here are 8 voting rights you may not know you have:
1. Showing an ID is not required in Massachusetts, except in a few cases.
According to the state's identification requirements, a poll worker can only ask for identification for a few reasons: You are voting for the first time in a federal election, you are an inactive voter, or you are casting a provisional ballot. In that case, you can use many forms of ID besides a Massachusetts driver's license or state-issued ID. A recent utility bill, rent receipt, signed lease, copy of a voter registration affidavit, or any other printed identification that contains your name and address at which you are registered to vote are also acceptable forms of ID at your polling location.
2. You can still vote even if your name isn’t on the list of registered voters. If for some reason the poll worker can’t find your name when you arrive at the polling station, you have a right to cast a provisional ballot. Cast it as you normally would, and officials will verify your status later. More information on provistional ballots here.
3. You can come prepared. No need to memorize all of your decisions. You have the right to carry in any materials with you to the voting booth — a sample ballot, mailers, notes — as long as you remove them when you leave. You can also check out your ballot ahead of time here.
4. Take your time. If there are voters behind you, you are allowed to stay in the voting booth for up to five minutes. If there’s no one in line, you have ten minutes.
5. It’s okay to make a mistake. If you make a mistake on your ballot, don’t worry. You have the right to request up to two additional replacement ballots. Just ask a poll worker for another.
6. Every polling station must accommodate disabled voters. Voters with a disability should be able to vote at any polling location both on Election Day and during early voting. Each polling place should have a voting booth that is handicap accessible. You are allowed to bring someone with you to help fill out your ballot, or if you don’t, you are allowed to request up to two poll workers to assist you. For voters who are vision-impaired, each polling place should have an AutoMARK machine, which allows voters to fill out their ballots privately with audio assistance. Learn more about rights for voters with a disability here.
7. You don’t have to leave the kids at home. No need to hire a last-minute babysitter; you are allowed to bring children into the voting booth with you.
8. Don’t leave your spot in line if the polls close. As long as you are in line when the polls close, officials must allow you to vote. Polling sites in Massachusetts close at 8pm.
Key dates and deadlines for Massachusetts voters:
- Saturday, October 17: In-person early voting begins. Find your location here.
- Saturday, October 24: Last day to register to vote and change your party affiliation. Register to vote here.
- Tuesday, October 20: Recommended by USPS as the latest you should mail your application for a mail-in ballot. You can now request one online.
- Wednesday, October 28: Last day that election officials can receive your application for a mail-in ballot. Also the deadline to request, via email or phone, an accommodation for electronic mail-in voting. Learn more about mail-in voting in Massachusetts here.
- Friday, October 30: Last day of in-person early voting.
- Tuesday, November 3: Election Day! And the last day that you can send in your postmarked mail-in ballot. But it’s recommended that you get it in as early as you can.
Correction: An earlier version of this story was updated to clarify the first right about showing identification when voting.