PLEASE NOTE: voters already approved to participate in the AVBM program for both the primary and general elections need not apply again.
To get access to the AVBM program that permits voters with disabilities who cannot effectively access the paper vote by mail system, registered voters with disabilities must submit a request for accommodation to the Accessible Vote by Mail (AVBM) Coordinator via email at AVBM@sec.state.ma.us or by phone at 617-727-2828. There are two parts to this request:
- The voter must first provide the Coordinator the following information:
- A statement confirming that the voter is the requesting the accommodation of accessible vote by mail because of a disability;
- Full name (first, middle, last);
- Voter registration address (street address, city/town, zip code);
- Mailing address, if different than voter registration address;
- Date of birth;
- Email address; and
- Phone number.
- The voter must email the Coordinator an electronic 2020 Vote by Mail Application available HEREwith all of fields completed, including the date and signature. The signature should be a hand-drawn signature, if possible. However, a typed signature is acceptable if the voter includes a statement in the email to the AVBM Coordinator that the voter is disabled and unable to independently insert a hand-drawn signature into the Application form.
- If the voter wishes to return their completed AVBM ballot by email, the voter must provide the AVBM Coordinator with a valid email address from which they will return the completed ballot.
If the AVBM Coordinator receives incomplete information from the voter or is unable to verify that the voter is registered at the address provided, the Secretary shall notify the voter of any deficiencies and provide the voter with information regarding what is necessary to complete the application and accommodation process. Voters must submit a complete and valid request for accommodation no later than 5:00pm on October 28, 2020 in order to qualify to participate in the AVBM program.
What Happens Once You Are Approved to Participate in the AVBM Program
After the AVBM Coordinator receives and verifies all necessary information for the Secretary must provide the voter:
- An access PIN in a separate email so that the voter can access the accessible electronic ballot and voter instructions online.
- Information by telephone or email regarding the options for returning a completed accessible electronic ballot and the email and mailing addresses to which they can be returned.
- An accessible affidavit document, via email and online through VotingWorks, that can be used instead of completing the affidavit printed on the internal ballot envelope by hand. The affidavit includes the following that the voter must affirm under the penalties of perjury:
- A statement that the voter is a registered voter in Massachusetts at the address provided in their application, that the voter will not cast a ballot in any other city or town or voting location and that the information provided in their application is true;
- An acknowledgement that the voter understands that, if the voter is submitting their completed ballot electronically, the voter is waiving the right to cast a secret ballot, as the electronic ballot can be associated at the time of submission with the voter’s personal email address. NOTE: military and overseas voters must sing a similar waiver in order to cast their ballots by email;
- A statement affirming that, if the voter has included a typewritten signature, the voter is disabled and unable to independently insert a hand-drawn signature into the document; and
- An area in which the voter must insert one of the following: (i) a handwritten signature; (ii) a hand-drawn electronic signature; or (iii) a typewritten signature if unable to independently insert a hand-draw signature.
- Notification, in limited circumstances when it is applicable (see https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleidreq/idrequirementsidx.htm), that the voter is required under the Help American Vote Act (HAVA) provide personal identification and information about acceptable forms of identification.
The Secretary must also inform the voter’s local election officials that the voter has been granted access to the AVBM program, that the voter may return the accessible electronic ballot electronically or by mail, and that the officials must mail the voter the two official vote by mail envelopes after hole punching the inner ballot envelope at the signature line of the affidavit printed upon it.
How to Return Your AVBM Electronic Ballot
For the 2020 general election, voters have TWO options for casting their AVBM electronic ballots.
- First Option: returning your ballot by email. The voter must email the AVBM Coordinator at AVBM@sec.state.ma.us from the same email address used to request the AVBM ballot and attach the following documents no later than 8:00pm on November 3, 2020:
- The completed accessible electronic ballot;
- The signed affidavit document that includes the affidavit of compliance bearing the name of the voter, the acknowledgement of waiver of a secret ballot, the statement required by the usage of a typewritten signature, and a signature – either hand-drawn, if possible, or typed; and
- ONLY if applicable, a scanned copy of any identification that the voter has been informed by the Secretary is required by HAVA.
- Second Option: returning your ballot by mail. The voter must mail the following documents, postmarked no later than November 3, 2020 and received by the voter’s local election officials no later than 5:00pm November 6, 2020:
- The completed and printed ballot which must be inserted into the inner ballot envelope (EV7) received from the voter’s local election officials;
- The signed affidavit compliance on the inner envelope OR the completed, signed, and printed electronic affidavit document, which must be placed inside of the outer mailing envelope with the sealed inner ballot envelope. NOTE: the printed affidavit document cannot be inside of the inner envelope; and
- ONLY if applicable, a scanned copy of any identification that the voter has been informed by the Secretary is required by HAVA.`