HYANNIS – The House of Representatives has approved legislation that would expand early voting and mail-in voting options for Massachusetts residents participating in upcoming state and local elections.
The act was engrossed by the House on a 155-1 vote and has moved on to the Senate for further action.
“House Bill 4768 takes several steps to help minimize the public health risks for voters and poll workers participating in this year’s elections,” wrote State Representative Will Crocker (R-Centerville) in a statement.
“Being able to make your voice known through the ballot box is one of the bedrocks of our constitution and our democracy. I am happy to be able to vote for a piece of legislation that will make it easier for those who are hampered in their ability to cast their ballot with all the problems the COVID-19 pandemic has presented.”
The act will require the secretary of state to mail applications to all registered voters by July 15, and again by September 14, for the September 1 primary and November 3 general election, respectively.
A ballot request must be submitted by voters to their city or town clerk by August 28 for the primary and by October 30 for the general election.
A pre-paid envelope will be provided with the application.
The same application filing cut-off date for absentee ballot requests is provided by the Act, but sets a deadline of noon on the day before the election for voters who want to cast an absentee ballot in person.
Completed early voting ballots can be mailed using a pre-paid return postage envelope, delivered in-person to the local clerk’s office, or placed in a secured municipal drop-box if one is available.
Cities and towns will be required by the act to provide early voting hours, including weekend hours, for individuals casting ballots in-person for the primary election from August 22 to 28, and from October 17 to 30 for the general election.