Absentee Voting

Election Commission

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.

2020 Updates to Absentee Voting

In July, a new law was passed to allow all registered voters in Massachusetts to vote by mail in any 2020 election, with no excuse needed. Please visit our early voting page to find out more about voting by mail.

Any voter taking precautions relating to COVID-19 shall be deemed to qualify for an absentee ballot by reason of disability for any election held on or before December 31st.

If you have been admitted to a healthcare facility within 7 days of an election, or you have been instructed by a medical professional or public health official to self-quarantine in your home within 7 days of an election, you may use the absentee ballot application to designate someone to pick up your emergency absentee ballot, deliver it to you, and return it to the Cambridge Election Commission.

There is no deadline to submit an application for an emergency ballot, but your ballot must be returned to the Cambridge Election Commission office by the close of polls on Election Day.

Tips and FAQs

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.

A family member of a person qualified to vote by Absentee Ballot may apply for that person. In addition to the above information, family members must also include their name and relationship to the voter. 

Click here for absentee ballot application

You can send your application or request to the Election Commission by mail, fax, or by scanning and emailing it (the application/request must be signed):

Election Commission
51 Inman Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

Fax: 617-349-4366

Email: elections2@cambridgema.gov 

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 marines 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.

How do I vote absentee in person?

Absentee Ballots are available for over-the-counter voting at the Cambridge Election Office at least twenty days before each election. Please call the Election Commission Office at 617-349-4361 to find out if Absentee Ballots are available. 

What is the deadline for applying to vote absentee?

By Mail:

  • You can apply any time within the calendar year until 5 pm on the 4th business day before the election. 
  • Make sure to apply with enough time to get the ballot and mail it back by Election day
  • 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

Over-the-Counter at the Election Commission Office:

  • You can apply any time until noon on the day before the election. If the day before the election is a holiday, the deadline is 5 p.m. on the last business day that the office is open. 
  • You can go to the Election Commission office and apply at the same time as you vote. 
  • If you go to the Election Commission during the Early Voting Period, you will be able to vote early without requiring an absentee 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.

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 not available for all elections so please check our early voting page for information about upcoming elections.

Page was last modified on 4/5/2021 1:35 PM
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