Q & A Municipal Elections During COVID-19

Questions and Answers
                                Q&A:   Municipal Elections During COVID-19
Q:     Voting by mail is highly encouraged due to COVID-19.  How does this work?
A:      There are 2 methods of voting by mail during the COVID-19 situation; Absentee or Early voting.
Absentee Voting:  In order to be eligible to vote by absentee ballot in Massachusetts, normally a voter must be prevented from voting at their polling place on Election Day, due to:
   - Absence from the voter's city or town on Election Day; or
   - Physical disability; or
   - Religious belief.
However, due to COVID-19, Chapter 45 of the Acts of 2020 permits any person taking precautions related to COVID-10 in response to a declared State of Emergency shall also be eligible to request an absentee ballot. 
Absentee ballot applications can be downloaded here

Early Voting: Typically, early voting is not permitted for local elections.  However, Chapter 45 of the Acts of 2020 states: Notwithstanding section 25B of chapter 54 of the General Laws or any other general or special law to the contrary, any eligible voter may vote early by mail for any annual or special municipal or state election held on or before June 30, 2020.
(b) Any qualified voter wanting to early vote by mail may file with their local election official an application for an early voting ballot. Local election officials shall send early voting by mail.
(c) Local election officials may substitute absentee ballots for early voting ballots for those voters requesting to vote early by mail in municipal elections.  Early voting applications can be downloaded here
There will be no early voting sites / voting locations for the Annual Election. 
If you cannot download either application, a hand-written or typed note with your signature can be sent to the Town Clerk.  You can mail it to PO Box 7, Hopedale MA 01747 to the attention of Lisa M. Pedroli, or scan and email to lpedroli@hopedale-ma.gov
Note: A photo of the request taken with your phone and emailed is also acceptable. 
Various forms of communicating your request is accepted for either the absentee or early voting ballot ….. however, the request must be in writing and must be signed by the applicant. (no calls, voicemails, etc.)
Q:     Is there a recommended time to allow ballots to be mailed back and forth?
A:      The “official” deadline to request a ballot by mail is Monday, June 15th NOON TIME, and then ballots must be received no later than 6 PM Tuesday, June 16th – Election Day.  However, it can a couple weeks to request a ballot by mail and receive it under normal circumstances even if all transactions occur within Hopedale.  With COVID-19 restrictions, this process is even slower.  Therefore – it is important to request your ballot as soon as possible if you plan to vote by mail.
Q:     When are Absentee Ballots counted?
A:      Except for ballots which are rejected as defective, all absentee ballots are cast and counted by the poll workers on Election Day. Absentee ballots are included in the final tallies and are counted whether an election contains a close race.
Q:     What is the last day to register to vote for the new election date of June 16th?
            A:      Friday, June 5th.  This is for anyone new to town, or you have never registered to vote before.
Q:     Does MA have online voter registration?
            A:      Yes, one can register on line at www.registertovotema.com, as long as you have a signature on file with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, which could be a MA driver’s license or a State ID card.
Q:     Can 16 and 17-year olds register to vote?
A:      Yes, but it’s only a pre-registration.  By law, you cannot vote until age 18.  If one is turning 18 after the last day of voter registration but before the election, is it highly recommended you pre-register.  This will allow you to vote on Election Day.  This can be done on line at www.registertovotema.com
Additional questions regarding the upcoming Annual Election scheduled for Tuesday, June 16th should be sent to the Town Clerk, Lisa M. Pedroli at lpedroli@hopedale-ma.gov