Vote by Mail

In most elections in Massachusetts, you can choose whether you prefer to vote in person or by mail.

No-excuse early voting by mail is available for:

  • State elections
  • State primaries
  • Presidential primaries
  • Most local elections

These ballots are known as “Vote by Mail” ballots and can be requested using a Vote by Mail Application.

While early Vote by Mail ballots are more common, there are special circumstances where you may need to use the Absentee Ballot application to apply for an absentee ballot instead. Find more information about absentee ballot eligibility here.

Applying for your Ballot

You can request your Vote by Mail ballot:

  • Online
  • By mail
  • By email or fax


You can submit a Vote by Mail application online through our Mail-in Ballot Application System.

You must be registered to vote to use the online application system. If you need to make changes to your registration, make those changes before you submit your application.

Voter registration changes need to be reviewed and certified by your local election official before they become effective. Please allow a few days for processing of your voter registration form before you plan to submit your Vote by Mail application online.


The Elections Division will send a pre-addressed, postage pre-paid Vote by Mail application to every registered voter before each statewide election. This mailing is required by state law.

You can use this application to request a ballot for the next statewide election, or for all elections this year. Simply mark your selections, sign the application, and drop it in the mail.

The Elections Division will  send Vote by Mail applications to voters in January, July, and September of 2024. We won’t send you an application if you’ve already applied to vote by mail for the upcoming election.

If you need another application, you can download a Vote by Mail application here. If you can’t print the application, you can also use any signed request to apply. You can send a signed letter to your local election office to apply for your ballot.


Applications can be submitted by email or fax, but they must include a signature that can be compared to your hand-written signature. Electronic signatures, scanned applications, and photos of applications are acceptable.

Your local election official can’t accept a typed signature, unless you’re a voter who needs an accommodation due to physical disability. If you’re unable to sign your application or mark your ballot by hand due to a disability, visit our page about voting with disabilities for information on requesting an accommodation.

Application Deadlines

Your mail-in application must reach your local election officials by 5 p.m. on the 5th business day before the election. No matter when the application is postmarked, your application must be at the local election office by the deadline.

2024 Application Deadlines:

  • September 3rd State Primaries: 5 p.m., Monday, August 26.
  • November 5th State Election: 5 p.m., Tuesday, October 29.

Apply as early as possible, especially if your ballot will need to be mailed out of town. The Postal Service recommends allowing up to 7 days for mail delivery.

To ensure that you receive your ballot with enough time to mail it back, you should apply 2-3 weeks before Election Day.

Returning your Ballot

There are several options for returning your ballot. You may return your ballot by:

  • Mailing it back using the envelope provided
  • Hand-delivering your ballot to your local election office
  • Dropping your ballot off at an early voting location during early voting hours
  • Using a ballot drop box.

Ballots cannot be dropped off at a polling place on Election Day.

Your ballot must reach your local election office or drop box by close of polls on Election Day in order to be counted. The only exception is for ballots returned by mail in the biennial state election in November, when 3 extra days are allowed for ballots postmarked by Election Day to arrive in the mail.

Use our Track My Ballot tool to check the status of your ballot. The tracker will show you the date your ballot was mailed, the date it was returned, and whether your ballot was accepted or rejected.

2024 Ballot Return Deadlines:

  • September 3rd Presidential Primaries: 8 p.m., September 3, 2024
  • November 5th State Election
    • If returned in person or by drop box: 8 p.m., November 5, 2024
    • If returned by domestic mail: by 5 p.m. on November 8, 2024 (must be postmarked by Election Day)
    • If returned by mail from outside the United States: 5 p.m. on November 15, 2024 (must be postmarked by Election Day)

Voting in Person

You can still vote in person if:

  • You applied to vote by mail, but never returned your ballot
  • You mailed your ballot back, but it hasn’t reached your local election office
  • Your ballot was received by your local election office, but it was rejected

If any of the above is true, you can vote at an early voting location or at your polling place on Election Day. If your mail-in ballot reaches your local election office after you vote, the mail-in ballot will be rejected.

You can’t vote in person if your ballot has reached your local election office and was accepted. Once your ballot is accepted, you have voted. You can’t take your ballot back or vote again.

Use our website to track your ballot status.

Local Elections

State law allows cities and towns to opt out of no-excuse early voting by mail in local elections. A city or town can only opt out of Vote by Mail for a local election after the city council or board of selectmen hold a public hearing and take a recorded vote to do so at least 45 days before the election.

If your community opts out of Vote by Mail for your local election, a Vote by Mail application will not be valid for that election. Check with your local election office about whether your community has opted out of Vote by Mail in an upcoming local election.

Northfield has not opted out of Vote By Mail for Local Elections.  You will receive a ballot for Local Elections if you selected “all elections” on your post card.

Absentee ballots are still available to those who qualify. Visit our Absentee Voting page for more information.

Military & Overseas Voters

If you are a U.S citizen residing out of the country or on active military duty, you may use the Federal Post Card Application or the Massachusetts Absentee Ballot Application to request your ballot.

More information is available on our Voting for Military & Overseas Citizens page.

Vote by Mail Accommodations

If you have a disability that prevents you from marking a paper ballot independently, you may qualify to use the Accessible Vote by Mail system. Visit our page for voters with disabilities to find more information and an Accessible Vote by Mail Application.

Download a Vote by Mail Application