The right to vote is the foundation of our democratic system. On election day all voters share equally in the decision-making process. The quality of the outcome of an election, whether it be for the selection of government officials or decisions on issues of general public interest, is related directly to the quality of voter participation. Any person who is a Massachusetts resident, a United States citizen and will be Eighteen (18) years old as of the next election, is eligible to register to vote. You do not need a drivers license or any other form of identification to register. However, when you sign 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 fraudulent registration is a fine of Ten Thousand (10,000) dollars or imprisonment for up to Five (5) years, or both. You will remain on the list of voters so long as you vote regularly and complete and return the annual Town census. If you move to another city or town, you must re-register in your new community. Be aware of the voter registration deadlines, If you are new to Town or just turned of age, you must register to vote at least Twenty (20) days before any Town Meeting/Election, State election or the Presidential Primary and Ten (10) days before a Special Town Meeting. These dates are always publicized, and the clerks office stays open until Eight (8) PM on the last day to register for these deadlines.
Registering to vote is very easy: you may visit the Town Clerk's Office in person and fill out an application, or you may obtain a mail -in form at any Post Office or Public Library. You must send a copy of your ID if registering by mail. Sufficient ID includes a copy of a current and valid photo id, current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document showing your name and address. This is a new requirement but comes about because of the Federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). If a voter fails to provide a copy of a valid form of ID, this voter MUST be given a Provisional Ballot on Election Day. If a voter who registered by mail since January 1, 2003 does not provide the Clerk's office with proper ID before Election Day they must bring ID to the polls and it will be checked before they may vote. You may also register at the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) when registering your car or changing your license.
When you register to vote you may choose to register in a state political party, select a political designation (become affiliated with a political organization which has not received party status in Massachusetts) or choose no political affiliation and become "unenrolled" (commonly referred to as "independent"). If you choose to register with a political party or select a political designation, you will only be able to receive the ballot of the selected party in a primary election. Your registration status also affects your ability to run for office in a partisan election. However, Holliston has non partisan Town Elections so anyone may run for Town elected positions.
The process to vote is simple: The polls are open on Election Day from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM for all elections and the polls for all precincts are at the High School Gym (field house), unless you are otherwise notified by mail. Check in tables in each precinct are where you go and give the name of your street, the number of your residence and your name. The voter lists are arranged by street so this is the fastest way to receive your ballot and keep the lines moving. 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" 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. This is new as of July 2004. You do not have to change your party status after any primary election, State or Federal. Once you receive a ballot, you cast your votes in the privacy of the voting booth. You may vote for the choices available on the ballot or, if you prefer, write-in the name of a candidate in space provided on the ballot. If you mismark your ballot, you must return it to the poll worker to have it marked as "spoiled" so that you may receive a new ballot. If you are disabled and need assistance, you may be accompanied by someone who can provide the needed assistance or request a poll worker to provide you with confidential, nonpartisan help.
When you have finished voting, you must proceed to the check-out table and again state the street where you live, the number of your residence and your name. (The check-in/check-out procedure allows for a full accounting of all ballots to reduce the chance of fraud). After you have checked-out, you deposit your ballot in the ballot box.
ABSENTEE VOTING: Voters who are unable to get to the polls to vote on election day because of physical disability, religious beliefs, away at school or travel may vote by absentee ballot. Absentee ballots are not available for mere inconvenience, or because of ordinary commuting-related difficulties.
Applications for absentee ballots may be obtained from the Town Clerk and may be submitted in person or by mail. The voter, or a family member, 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 choice in the application. You will not become registered in a political party because of your participation in a state primary. Applications for absentee ballots must be received by the Town Clerk before 12:00 noon the day before an election. If the voter submits the application in person, he/she may obtain the ballot and vote over-the-counter at the clerks office. When the application is submitted in person by a family member, the ballot will be sent by mail or in some cases may be hand carried to the voter by the family member. A voter who is permanently disabled need not submit a request for an absentee ballot every election. If the Town Clerk receives a note from a physician indicating permanently disability the clerk will send an application at the beginning of every year. Once this is signed and returned to the clerks office it is kept on file and an absentee ballot will be sent for each election.