Voters who are unable to vote on election day because of physical disability, religious beliefs or travel may vote by absentee ballot. State law limits the availability of absentee ballots to the three listed circumstances only. Absentee ballots are not available for mere inconvenience, or because of ordinary commuting-related difficulties. If you will be absent from Swampscott for an extended period of time, you may submit a single application for all elections occurring within the year the application is accepted.
Applications for absentee ballots may be obtained from the Election Office or the Office of the Secretary of State. Applications may be submitted in person and by mail. The voter, or a "family member" (father, mother, sister, brother, son, daughter, grandparent, grandchild, a spouse or person residing in the same household, in-laws, adopting parent or adopted child, stepparent or stepchild, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew), may submit an application. All applications must be signed under the pains and penalties of perjury by the voter, or a family member, before a ballot will be made available.
In a primary election, a voter who is not registered in a political party must specify the ballot of the party of choice in the application. You will not become registered in a party because of your participation in a state primary. In the March presidential primary, however, a voter becomes a member of the party for which a ballot is chosen. While you can change your registration status back to "unenrolled" (independent) immediately after voting, your temporary enrollment in the party may affect your ability to run as a party candidate in the near future.
A voter who is admitted to a health care facility after noon of the fifth day before an election may apply for a ballot up until the close of the polls and may request to have the ballot delivered.
Absentee ballots generally are available three weeks before an election.
How to Apply
Permanently Disabled Voters
A voter who is permanently disabled need not submit a request for an absentee ballot every election. If such a voter submits a note from a registered physician indicating that he is disabled permanently, the Election Office will send an application for an absentee ballot twenty-eight days before every election. Upon the Election Office's receipt of the signed application, the voter will be sent an absentee ballot.
In the event that the Election Office cannot find the name of a voter requesting an absentee ballot, the voter must be sent an escrow ballot with a letter explaining the reason.
If the voter submits the application in person, he may obtain the ballot (call first to see if it is available) and vote over-the-counter. If the ballot is not available, it will be sent to the voter when available. When the application is submitted in person by a family member, the ballot only will be sent by mail to the voter. In all other cases, the ballot is sent by mail. Ballots may be returned by mail or in person by the voter or a family member. All ballots must be signed by the voter, or if the voter is unable to sign, an assisting person.
Specially Qualified Voters
In addition to registered voters, certain "specially qualified voters" may vote by absentee ballot. A "specially qualified voter" is a person who is a Massachusetts citizen, living outside of the United States, who is at least eighteen years old and whose last residence in the United States was Massachusetts. You also may be a "specially qualified voter" if you are otherwise eligible to be a registered voter and your present domicile (a place where you live and plan to remain) is Massachusetts and you are: out of the Town because you are in the active service of the armed forces or merchant marine of the United States, or a spouse or dependent of such person; absent from the Commonwealth; or confined in a correctional facility or jail.
Return of Ballots
In general, absentee ballots must be received before the polls close to be counted. However, absentee ballots for the state general election completed outside the United States will be counted if received by 5:00 p.m. on the tenth day following the election. This exception does not apply to Swampscott Town elections or state primaries.
A listing of all voters who obtained absentee ballots is sent to the poll locations to prevent such a voter from voting a second time.
If the Election Office learns that an absentee voter has died before the election, his votes will not be counted.