Absentee Voting FAQ

What is the difference between absentee voting and early voting?

Early voting is a process by which a registered voter can vote before Election Day during a designated period. Voters can vote early by mail or in-person and the ballot will be cast on Election Day. 

Early voting is different from absentee voting because you do not need an excuse or reason to vote early!  It is also only available for biennial state elections, not for primaries, special elections, or local elections.  For more information, please visit our Early Voting Page

Who can vote by absentee Ballot?

You can vote by absentee Ballot if any of the following applies:

  • You will be absent from Cambridge on election day during polling hours;
  • You have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polling place;
  • You cannot vote at the polls due to religious belief. 

How do I vote absentee by mail?

To vote absentee by mail, you first have to apply for an Absentee Ballot.  You can do this by either filling out the application form below or by sending a signed request to the Election Office that includes:

  • Your name;
  • The address where you are registered to vote;
  • The address where you want the ballot to be sent;
  • The election(s) for which you need an Absentee Ballot.

If you are an unenrolled voter seeking to vote in a primary, you must indicate the party ballot that you prefer.

Click here for absentee ballot application  

Family member may apply
A family member of a person qualified to vote by Absentee Ballot may apply for that person.

Click here for absentee ballot by a Family Member  

Do I need to be registered to vote to get an Absentee Ballot?

Yes, unless you are a “specially qualified voter” you must be registered to vote to apply for an Absentee Ballot.

A specially qualified voter is a person:

  • who is otherwise eligible to register as a voter and
  • whose present domicile is outside the United States and whose last domicile in the United States was Massachusetts or whose present domicile is Massachusetts and who is:
    (a) absent from the city or town of residence and in the active service of the armed forces or in the merchant marine of the United States or a spouse or dependent of such person;
    (b) absent from the commonwealth; or
    (c) confined in a correctional facility or a jail, except if by reason of felony conviction.

What is the deadline for applying to vote absentee?

  • You can apply 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. 

What is the deadline for mailing back the ballot?

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.

How do I vote absentee in person?

Absentee Ballots are available for over-the-counter voting at the Cambridge Election Office from twenty days before each election, until noon on the day before the election.

People with disabilities

If you are permanently disabled, you may apply to vote from home.  Send a letter to the Election Office from your doctor, stating that you are permanently unable to cast your ballot at the polling place due to a physical disability. The Election Office will automatically mail you an application for an Absentee Ballot for all elections in a calendar year. You must sign the application and send it back.

Designated Health Care Facilities

A person who has been admitted to a hospital or other health care facility after twelve o'clock noon of the 5th day before a primary/election can request an absentee ballot up until the close of polls on Election Day. The ballot can be delivered by an election official or the voter can designate a person to deliver the ballot in person and then return it to the Election Commission. 

Quick Links

Contact Information

Executive Director:
Tanya L. Ford

51 Inman Street, First Floor
Cambridge MA 02139


Hours of Service

Monday: 8:30 a.m.- 8 p.m.
Tuesday to Thursday: 8:30 am-5 p.m.
Friday: 8:30 a.m.-Noon

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