Vote by Mail for 2020

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VOTE BY MAIL FOR 2020

Recently the Massachusetts State Legislature passed House Bill 4820, An Act relative to voting options in response to COVID-19, and was signed into law as Chapter 115 of the Acts of 2020 by Governor Charles D. Baker on July 6, 2020.

Some of the changes to State Election Laws are temporary and will expire at the end of 2020, while others will be permanent.

VOTE BY MAIL-ELIGIBILITY

•Early voting by mail will be available for all elections in 2020.

•Any person taking precautions relating to COVID-19 shall be deemed to qualify for an absentee ballot by reason of disability for any election held on or before December 31st.

•A voter who has been instructed by a medical professional or public health official to self-quarantine in their homes within 7 days of an election may vote in the same manner as someone admitted to a healthcare facility within 7 days of the election (voters will be able to request a hand-delivered absentee ballot if they have been admitted to a health care facility after 12 p.m. on the seventh day before an election.)

Early “Vote by Mail” ballots require no excuse, and should be advertised to voters in lieu of absentee ballots, unless the voter is in a situation where an absentee ballot would be needed or preferable-situations where a voter may need to apply for an absentee ballot instead of a “ Vote by Mail” early ballot would include military/overseas voters, voters who have been admitted to a healthcare facility or need to self-quarantine within a week of the election, voters who are specially qualified, or voters who need to request the ballot on their behalf.

VOTE BY MAIL-APPLICATIONS

•A Vote by Mail application is available for download.

•The Secretary of the Commonwealth must mail all voters registered, who have not already applied for a primary ballot, by July 1 a Vote by Mail application for an early ballot no later than July 15.

•Clerks must include a Vote by Mail application with the acknowledgement notice to all voters who register or change their address between July 1st and August 22nd, inclusive.

• Vote by Mail Applications must be posted on every location election’s website, as well as the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.

•Applications for mail-in ballots are acceptable if they are submitted by email (townclerk@watertown-ma.gov) or fax 617-972-6595, as long as the signature is visible and it is signed in substantially the same manner as a handwritten signature. This includes applications signed with a mouse, stylus, or finger. Applications with typed signatures are still not acceptable.

•The deadline to submit a Vote by Mail application or absentee ballot application for a mailed ballot for the September 1 State Primary will be 5:00PM on Wednesday, August 26th.

• The deadline to submit a Vote by Mail application or absentee ballot application for a mailed ballot for the November 3 General Election will be 5:00PM on Wednesday, October 28th.