The Board of Election Commissioners was established by the Acts of 1921, Chapter 239. The four-member Board is responsible for managing and supervising elections and the annual census in the City; ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local election laws and the policies and guidelines established by the Board; managing staffing and operation of polling locations; certifying nomination papers and petitions; and providing access to candidacy for those seeking elected office. The Board is also charged with the duties of assisting citizens in exercising their voting rights; teaching citizens the significance of registering vote and ensuring that no one who is qualified to vote be denied the right and opportunity to do so. According to the 2010 Federal Census there are 78,000 citizens eligible to vote in the City of Cambridge and of those eligible there are approximately 64,081 or 82% individuals registered to vote.
The Board's role was expanded in 1987 to include administration of Chapter 55 of the Massachusetts General Laws, which governs campaign and political finance reporting. In 1991, the Commission was also assigned the responsibility of implementing Chapters 2.117 and 2.118 of the Cambridge Municipal Code, known as the "Ethics Ordinance."
Individuals from both major parties are appointed by the City Manager for staggered four-year terms. The City Manager appoints an Executive Director, with the advice of the Board, who is responsible for overseeing the Board's functions and supervising operations of the Election Commission and all local, state, and federal elections within Cambridge.
The Election Commission processes and maintains local voter registration records for the statewide Voter Registration Information System (VRIS); processes nomination papers, petitions, absentee, and provisional ballots; staffs and operates polling locations; tests and prepares voting equipment; conducts the annual City Census and provides census information to federal, state, local agencies, and the public; and administers municipal campaign and political finance reporting for the City.
The Election Commission is dedicated to protecting the integrity of the electoral process in accordance with federal, state, and local laws and providing quality services to the public in an efficient and professional manner.