Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Frequently Asked Questions for the Election and Census Commission
We hope that the answers below to Frequently Asked Questions will help familiarize you with the Election and Census Commission's for the City of Lowell. Since these answers have been put together as a general guide, they may not answer all of your questions. If you have additional questions, or suggestions that can help us improve this list, please feel free to contact the Election and Census Commission directly at 978-970-4046.
- Who May Register?
- How To Register?
- Registration Deadlines
- How To Verify That You Are Registered?
- Click here to download the Massachusetts Mail-In Voter Registration Form (PDF)
The Voting Process
- When Are Elections Held?
- Where Are Elections Held?
- Prohibited Activities
- The Process
- What If Your Name Isn't On The Voters List?
- Casting Your Vote
- Absentee Voting Requirements
- Obtaining An Application For An Absentee Ballot
- Returning The Application For An Absentee Ballot
- Permanently Disabled Voters
- Specially Qualified Voters
- When The Name Of An Applicant Does Not Appear On The Voters List
- Return Of Absentee Ballots
Running For Public Office
- Who May Run For Public Office?
- How Do I Register To Run?
- What Do I Need To Know About Campaign Finance?
Annual Census Information
- What Is The Annual Census?
- How Does The Annual Census Effect Me?
- What If I Didn't Receive This Year's Annual Census Form?
- What If I Am New To The City?
- Who Are My Elected Officals?
- You must be a U.S. Citizen
- You must be a Massachusetts Resident
- You must be at least 18 years old on or before the next election
Registering to vote is an easy process for qualified applicants: you may choose to visit the City of Lowell's Election and Census Commission to complete a voter registration form in person, or you may obtain a mail-in voter registration form from:
- any Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles while doing a registry transaction.
- various social service agencies
- various other locations throughout the state
A mail-in voter registration form may also be obtained by calling the City of Lowell's Election and Census Commission or the State Elections Division at (800) 462-VOTE (8683). First time voters in Massachusetts must provide a copy of their identification if registering by mail; if you don't have an ID, or none is provided, you will be required to provide proof of residency at the polling location on election day. 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 fraudulant registration increased recently to a fine of ten thousand dollars or imprisonment for up to five years, or both.
Voter Registration Forms are not available for download.
When you register to vote you may choose to register in a state political party, select a political designation (become affiliated with a political organzation which has not received party status in Massachusetts), or choose no affiliation and become unenrolled (commonly referred to as an independent); if you do not choose a political designation, you will still be able to vote in a primary. If you choose to register with a political party, you will only be able to receive the ballot fo the selected party in a primary election. Your registration status also affects your ability to run for office in a partisan election.
You will remain on the list of voters so long as you vote regularly, complete, and return the Annual Census. If you mote to another city of town, you must re-register in your new community.
- Presidential elections occur every four (4) years; the Presidential Primary is held in March and the election is held in November.
- State elections occur every other year in even numbered years; the State Primary is conducted in September and the election is held in November.
- City elections occur every other year in odd numbered years; the primary, if there is one, is held in September or October and the election is held in November.
look up your polling location here, or view a general list of polling locations here.
- During Presidential Elections, from 7:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M.
- During State Elections/Primaries, from 7:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M.
- During City Elections/Primaries, from 7:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M.
In a primary election, voters who are registered in a political party may only obtain a ballot for that party. If you are an unenrolled voter (commonly referred to as an independant voter), you may request the ballot of any party participating in the primary election. You will not become registered in a political party because of your participation in a state primary.
If you are not on listed as an active voter, but believe you registered, you may request a "provisional" ballot. The provisional ballot allows you to cast your vote. The provisional ballot will be counted if it is determined that you are registered as a voter in the City of Lowell. The Election and Census Commission will review each provisional ballot to determine if the votes should be counted.
When you have finished voting, you must proceed to the check-out table. Similar to when you checked in, you should tell the poll worker the name of the street where you live, then the number of your residence, and finally your name. This check in/out procedure allows for a full accounting of all ballots, reducing the chances of fraud.
After you have checked out, you deposit your ballot in the ballot box, and have completed voting.
- Are unable to vote on election day because of physical disabliity
- Are unable to vote on election day because of religious beliefs
- Are unable to vote on election day because of travel
If you will be absent from the City of Lowell for an extended period of time, you may submit a single application for all elections occurring within the year the application is accepted.
Absentee Ballots generally are available three weeks before an election. Applications for Absentee Ballots may be obtained from the Election and Census Commission or through the Office of the Secretary of State, and may be submitted in person or by mail. The voter, or "family member" (defined as: 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 a completed application. All Absentee Ballot 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. State law requires that we must have a signature of the applicant on file with the request.
In a primary election, a voter who is not registered in a political party must specify the ballot of the party of choice on the application; doing so will not register you in a political party because of your participation in a state primary. During a March Presidential Primary, however, a voter temporarily becomes a member of the party for which a ballot is chosen. While your registration status reverts automatically back to "unenrolled" (independant) after voting, your temporary enrollment in a party may affect your ability to run as a party candidate in the near future.
Additional information on Absentee Ballots is available online at the Office of the Secretary of State.
Applications for absentee ballots must be received by the Election and Census Commission before 12:00 P.M. (noon) on the day before an election. 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.
If the voter submits the application in person, and ballots are available, he may obtain the ballot and vote over-the-counter; if the ballot is not available, it will be sent to the voter by mail. When the application is submitted in person by a family member, the ballot must be sent out to the voter by mail. In all other cases, the ballot will be sent by mail.
- Out of 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, except if by reason of a felony conviction.
If the voter submits the application in person, he may obtain the ballot (if it is available) and vote over-the-counter. Ballots may be returned by mail or in person by the voter or a family member. All ballot affidavit envelopes must be signed by the voter, or if the voter is unable to sign, an assisting person.
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 City of Lowell elections or state primaries.
"Age, Residence and Signature Rquirements to Run for Office" document here.
For Municipal Public Office, any person who is a City of Lowell resident and a registered voter may run for public office
For Federal, State, or County Office, please refer to the "Age, Residence and Signature Rquirements to Run for Office" document here.
For Municipal Public Office, candidate nomination forms and election calendars are available at the Election and Census Commission. Candidates for Municipal Public Office in the City of Lowell require the signature of 50 City of Lowell voters; all voters must be registered and verified through the Election and Census Commission.
What Do I Need To Know About Campaign Finance?The Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) is responsible for administering and enforcing Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 55, which discusses the campaign finance laws. State Law requires an accounting of all money received or spent in the course of a political campaign for public inspection. It is the responsibility of all those participating in political campaign financing in Massachusetts to become knowledgeable with the provisions of the law and regulations, as violations of the law cary serious penalties of fines, imprisonment, or both.
As a City of Lowell City Council candidate, you are required to:
- Contact OCPF prior to running in order to obtain details such as Banking, Assets, Liabilities, etc;
- File financial papers electronically with OCPF; and
- File a copy of financial papers with the City of Lowell Election and Census Commission.
As a City of Lowell School Committee candidate, you are required to file financial papers with the City of Lowell Election and Census Commission as follows:
- Eight (8) days before the City of Lowell Primary Election;
- Eight (8) days before the City of Lowell Election; and
- On January 21st of each year.
For additional information, please visit OCPF's website here, or contact them at:
Office of Campaign and Political Finance
One Ashburton Place, Room 411
Boston, MA 02108
(800) 462-OCPF (6273)
Failure to return your completed Annual Census may effect your active voting status.
print a copy of this year's census here, and return it to the address indicated on the form.
If you are a new resident in the City of Lowell, it is important that you add yourself to the Annual Census to help establish yourself as a resident in the City of Lowell. You may print a copy of this year's Annual Census here, and return it to the address indicated on the form.