2020 Voter Guide
Posted on 16 Oct 2020
Early Voting Information
In-person early voting is available statewide from October 17th to the 30th. Unlike on Election Day, where you can only vote at your registered polling place, you can vote in-person or drop off your mail-in ballot at any early voting location in your municipality. You can look up your municipality’s early vote locations and times here.
Due to the pandemic, mail-in ballots will be made available to every eligible voter who requests one this year, no questions asked! You can either send in a paper application or use the state’s online vote by mail application system to request a ballot.
In order to avoid current issues with the Postal Service and ensure you have enough time to receive your ballot and send it back, the Secretary of State’s office recommends you submit your application no later than October 20. Applications for mail-in ballots MUST be received by October 28. Applications postmarked earlier but received after the deadline will not be accepted.
Ballots need to be postmarked no later than November 3 and must be back at your local election office no later than November 6. You can also drop off your ballot at any early voting location in your municipality from October 17th to the 30th (check locations and times here), or hand-delivered to your municipality’s election office or available drop-off locations anytime on or before Election Day. You can find the available drop-off locations and election office in your municipality here.
If you mailed your early ballot back and it was accepted by your local election office, then your ballot is considered to be cast and you can’t vote again. If your ballot never reached your local election office, or if it was rejected for some reason, you’re able to vote in person. You can track the status of your mail-in ballot here.
This year’s election day is November 3rd, 2020. A word of caution: Election Day is the last day possible to cast your ballot, NOT the first. Polls must be open statewide from 7AM to 8PM, although municipalities are able to open as early as 5:45AM. If you are still in line to vote when the polls close at 8PM, stay in line! By law, you are allowed to cast your ballot.
Unlike early voting, you can only cast your ballot in-person at your designated polling place on Election Day. You can find your polling place here.
If, on Election Day, you find that you are not on the list at your address’s designated polling location, or something about your information is listed incorrectly, you have the right to cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are sealed in an envelope and kept separately from other ballots until the voter’s eligibility can be determined. State law requires that local election officials resolve all provisional ballots within three days of a state or presidential primary and within twelve days of a state or local election. All provisional ballots are investigated and those found to be cast by eligible voters are counted.
If you require assistance filling out your ballot because of physical disability, inability to read or inability to read English, you may bring anyone of your choosing into the voting booth with you. You can also ask for two poll workers to assist you in marking your ballot (by law, they must be registered with two different political parties in order to assist voters).
Massachusetts does NOT require photo ID, but you may be asked to show proof of address at the check-in table if any of the below applies to you (the Secretary of State’s words, not ours):
- You are voting for the first time in Massachusetts in a federal election;
- You are an inactive voter;
- You are casting a provisional or challenged ballot;
- The poll worker has a reasonable suspicion that leads them to request identification.
For a full list of what qualifies as acceptable identification, you can click here.
If you feel that your right to vote has been violated in any way or that you have been prevented from casting your vote, call the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Elections Division at 1-800-462-VOTE (8683).
Ballot Question 1
This law would require that motor vehicle owners and independent repair facilities be provided with increased access to mechanical data related to vehicle maintenance and repair. It would require manufacturers of motor vehicles starting with model year 2022 sold in Massachusetts to equip any such vehicles that use telematics systems — which collect and transmit mechanical data to a remote server — with a standardized open access data platform. Owners of motor vehicles with telematics systems would get access to mechanical data through an app. With vehicle owner authorization, repair sites not affiliated with a manufacturer and independent dealerships would be able to retrieve mechanical data from, and send commands to, the vehicle for repair and maintenance. Manufacturers would not be allowed to require authorization before owners or repair facilities access data in a motor vehicle’s diagnostic system. This law would require the Attorney General to prepare a notice for prospective owners and lessees explaining telematics systems and the proposed law’s requirements concerning access to the vehicle’s mechanical data. Dealers would have to provide prospective buyers with the notice before buying or leasing a vehicle. Failure to comply would subject motor vehicle dealers to sanctions by the licensing authority.
We are not taking a position on this ballot question at this time.
This ballot initiative would make it easier for drivers to get their car fixed, but with any data giveaway, there are safety concerns that are important to address and there may be unintended consequences for people who have experienced domestic violence or abuse. We’re following the lead of The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault (Jane Doe), who have decided to not take a position at this time, although they note that they “do not believe that a YES vote on 1 would uniquely compromise survivor safety in the manner portrayed by opponents”. The Center for State Policy Analysis found that the question seemed to fully exclude all GPS and location data from being shared, but in the event that the ballot question passes, the legislature can pass a law making it explicit that such data cannot be shared to protect survivors and other vulnerable populations.
Ballot Question 2
This would implement ranked-choice voting, where voters rank each candidate on the ballot in order of preference. Ranked-choice voting would be used in primary and general elections for statewide offices, state legislative offices, Congressional offices, and some other races. It would not be used in elections for president, county commissioner, or regional district school committee member. Votes would be counted in a series of rounds. In the first round, if a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the first-place votes, that candidate would be declared the winner and the process ends. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the first-place votes, then the candidate or candidates who received the fewest first-place votes would be eliminated and, in the next round, each of their votes would be counted toward the next highest ranked candidate on that voter’s ballot. This would continue until all but the winning candidate is eliminated. The candidate who was, out of the remaining candidates, the preference of a majority of voters would be declared the winner. Ranked-choice voting would be used only in races where a single candidate is to be declared the winner and not in races where more than one person is to be elected. Candidates in a statewide or district election have at least three days to request a recount. The Secretary of State would be required to conduct a voter education campaign about ranked-choice voting. If passed, this would take effect on January 1, 2022.
We recommend: voting YES.
Ranked-choice voting expands voter choice by allowing you to vote for who you really want, without worrying whether your vote was wasted. In our current first past the post system, if your preferred candidate has a low chance of winning, you’re left with two options: (1) cast a “safe” vote for one of the front-runners to avoid electing your least-preferred frontrunner, or (2) vote according to your conscience, accepting the risk involved. You shouldn’t be forced to take sides in this lose-lose dilemma. Ranked Choice Voting lets you vote for candidates you truly support, ultimately ensuring your vote matters more.
The Yes on 2 Coalition
Common Cause Massachusetts
League of Women Voters
“Vote Yes on Question 2”, Boston Globe
Ballot Question 3
If you live in the 19th Suffolk, 21st Middlesex, 15th Suffolk, 18th Suffolk, 17th Suffolk, 12th Middlesex, 11th Middlesex, 3rd Hampshire, 11th Norfolk, 2nd Hampshire, 29th Middlesex, 27th Middlesex, 15th Norfolk, 11th Suffolk, 5th Essex, 16th Middlesex, 25th Middlesex, 24th Middlesex, or 1st Franklin districts, this additional question will be on your ballot. Don’t know your district? Find out here.
This would instruct the representative for this district to vote in favor of legislation that would require Massachusetts to achieve 100% renewable energy use within the next two decades with a deadline of 2040, starting immediately and making significant progress within the first five years while protecting impacted workers and businesses.
We recommend: voting YES.
We only have a handful of years left to take on the climate crisis, and despite lofty rhetoric coming out of the State House for almost a decade now about climate change, the Legislature has yet to take any action. Massachusetts can’t wait until the wildfires of the West Coast come to our forests, or the record hurricanes seen in the Gulf Coast come to our shores. We need to act now to transition our economy and society to renewable energy, while creating thousands of jobs for workers who would be impacted. There’s no time to waste. We need to take bold climate action now. The legislature is still working on a climate bill that could become law this year, but this will not include 100% renewable energy.
Mass Power Forward
“House takes baby steps on climate”, Commonwealth Magazine
“Massachusetts lawmakers face pressure to pass 100% renewable bill this session”, Energy News Network
Ballot Question 4
If you live in the 19th Suffolk, 21st Middlesex, 15th Suffolk, 18th Suffolk, 17th Suffolk, 12th Middlesex, 11th Middlesex, 3rd Hampshire, 11th Norfolk, 2nd Hampshire, 29th Middlesex, 27th Middlesex, 15th Norfolk, 11th Suffolk, 5th Essex, or 1st Franklin, this additional question will be on your ballot. Don’t know your district? Find out here.
This would instruct the representative for this district to vote in favor of changes to the Legislature’s rules that would make the results of all votes in legislative committees publicly available on the Legislature’s website.
We recommend: voting YES.
Important progressive legislation is blocked year after year in Massachusetts. On issues like climate change, voting rights, protecting immigrants, and reproductive justice, despite strong popular support and a Democratic supermajority of 90%, the legislature just doesn’t take action.
Why? Massachusetts has one of the least transparent state governments in the country. It’s very difficult for the average resident to get information about what’s happening in our legislature. Many people think it’s their fault that they haven’t been paying attention. But that’s not true.
Massachusetts is in the minority of states that do not make committee votes public. In most states, you can go to the website of the legislature, and look up how your elected representatives voted. Not here. That’s why you see bills with dozens of cosponsors - like the ROE Act, which has over 90 co-sponsors and is very popular with voters - never making it out of the legislature. Reps don’t feel beholden to delivering on their promises because why they may say they support something, or choose to co-sponsor a bill, there’s no way we can know for sure how they ultimately vote. If committee votes are public information, we can hold our reps accountable when they don’t deliver on their promises.
“All Committee Votes Should Be Made Public”, Commonwealth Magazine
Of the candidates on the ballot in 2020, here are the candidates that have signed our Voters Deserve to Know Pledge, which commits to crucial transparency reforms that we need to win progressive change in Massachusetts. We’ve only chosen to include candidates that have opponents in the general, as many of the incumbents who have signed our pledge are running unopposed in their districts.
We’d also like to highlight Sen. Becca Rausch (D-Needham, Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex district) as a progressive champion running in a close race for re-election. Sen. Rausch was one of the first signers of the pledge, and has stood for transparency, accountability in government throughout her time in the State Senate. She’s an original co-sponsor of the ROE Act and has advanced gender and reproductive justice in the Commonwealth for her entire career. We need progressives like Sen. Rausch who will fight for Massachusetts working families, and with your support, we can help protect her seat.
Rep. Patrick Kearney (D-Scituate, 4th Plymouth district)
Rep. Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster, 4th Worcester district)
Rep. Dan Sena (D-Acton, 37th Middlesex district)
Sen. Becca Rausch (D-Needham, Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex district)
Sen. Susan Moran (D-Falmouth, Plymouth and Barnstable district)
Michelle Mullet (Candidate for State Rep, 20th Middlesex district)
Vanna Howard (Candidate for State Rep, 17th Middlesex district)
Meghan Kilcoyne (Democratic Candidate for State Rep, 12th Worcester district)
Charlene DiCalogero (Green Candidate for State Rep, 12th Worcester district)
William LaRose (Candidate for State Rep, 2nd Franklin district)
Josh Mason (Candidate for State Rep, 1st Barnstable district)
Samuel Biagetti (Candidate for State Rep, 5th Worcester district)
Michael Kushmerek (Candidate for State Rep, 3rd Worcester district)
Meg Wheeler (Candidate for State Senate, Plymouth & Norfolk district)