Qualifications for Absentee Voting
Massachusetts State law limits the availability of absentee ballots to voters who meet the following qualifications:
- You will be absent from Lowell on election day during polling hours.
- You have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls.
- You cannot vote at the polls due to religious belief.
Requests for absentee ballots under any other circumstance (e.g., mere inconvenience, ordinary commuting-related difficulties, etc.) are not allowed.
Apply for an Absentee Ballot
Once you meet the above qualifications, you must apply for an Absentee Ballot as follows:
- In Person - at the City of Lowell's Election Office during regular and special office hours. Absentee Ballots are available for over-the-counter voting from 20 days before each election, until noon on the day before the election.
- By Mail-in Registration Form - Forms are available at the Secretary of State's absentee ballot information website. Click here to download an absentee ballot application. Fill the form out completely and sign it at the bottom. Mail the form to the Election Commission at 375 Merrimack St - Rm 5, Lowell, MA 01852.
Casting Your Vote
Note that the Election Office must receive your ballot by the close of polls on Election Day. In a state or federal general election, an Absentee Ballot that has been mailed from outside the United States on or before Election Day must be counted if the Election Office receives it on or before the tenth day after the election.
When registering to vote, it is important to keep in mind that by signing the registration form, you must attest, under the pains and penalties of perjury, that you are legally eligible to register and that the information you provide is accurate and truthful. The penalty for fraudulent registration increased recently to a fine of ten thousand dollars or imprisonment for up to five years, or both.
Absentee Voting Guidelines
- You can apply to vote absentee any time until noon on the day before the election.
- If you are going to vote by mail, be sure to apply with enough time to get the ballot and mail it back by Election Day.
- If you are going to vote in person, you can go to the Election Office and apply at the same time as you vote.
- If you are going to vote absentee in more than one election, you can apply for all elections within a calendar year with one application.
- In the event that the Election Commission cannot find the name of a voter requesting an absentee ballot, the voter must be sent a Provisional Ballot with a letter explaining the reason for the Provisional Ballot. The Provisional Ballot allows you to cast your vote and will be counted if it is determined that a mistake has been made and you are a qualified registered voter. You will be given a form to fill out that you will sign, and you may also be required to provide more information regarding your qualification. You will also receive information that will allow you to find out the outcome of the research done on your voting qualification.
- If you are permanently disabled, you may apply to vote from home. Send a letter to the Election Commission from your doctor, stating that you are permanently unable to cast your ballot at the polling place due a physical disability, and the Election Office will automatically mail you an application for an Absentee Ballot for all elections in a calendar year. Note that you must sign the application and mail it back.
- A person who is a patient or resident of a designated health care facility can submit an application any time until the close of polls on Election Day. An Election Commissioner will hand-deliver absentee ballots to designated health care facilities.