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Election Law @ Moritz Home Page

Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz

2008 Key Questions for Key States


The complete research by Election Law @ Moritz for Massachusetts can be found below.

Institutional Arrangements

State Chief Election Authorities

Elected individual (D)

Chief election authority: Secretary of the Commonwealth. M.G.L.A. 9 § 2.

Method of selection: Elected. Const. Art. LXIV, § 1.

Current officer: William Francis Galvin (D). Campaign 2006 – Mass. voters cast primary ballots today, Providence Journal Bulletin (RI), September 19, 2006. (Last updated 1/1/08)

State High Court Composition

Unknown affiliation/appointed

Method of selection: Gubernatorial appointment with advice and consent of the legislature. Const. Pt. 2, Ch. II, § I, Art. IX.

Justices: Margaret H. Marshall (D), John M. Greaney (appointed by D), Roderick L. Ireland (appointed by R), Francis X. Spina (appointed by R), Judith A. Cowin (appointed by R), Robert J. Cordy (R), Margot Botsford (appointed by D) (Last updated 12/22/07)


  • SJC Nominee Personifies GOP Pique, Boston Globe, October 3, 1996.
  • Court Majority v. Dissenters In Bitter Massachusetts Cast, New York Times, February 6, 2004.
  • Governor appoints justices, Deseret Morning News, December 16, 2003.
  • Patrick chooses Botsford for SJC appointment, AP Alert – Massachusetts, July 26, 2007.
  • From Da to Dada in Just a Few Hours, Boston Globe, April 2, 2000.  

Voter Registration

EL@M did not research this topic for Massachusetts


EL@M did not research this topic for Massachusetts

Provisional Ballots

EL@M did not research this topic for Massachusetts

Early and Absentee Voting

EL@M did not research this topic for Massachusetts

Voting Technology

EL@M did not research this topic for Massachusetts

Polling Place Operations

Polling hours extension


In statewide elections the polls may be opened as early as fifteen minutes before 6 a.m. and must be open by 7 a.m. at the latest and shall be kept open at least thirteen hours. MGLA 54 s 64. That indicates that the polls perhaps could be open more than 13 hours but the statute goes on to require that polls must close at 8 p.m. "The polls shall in no case be kept open after eight o'clock in the evening." Id. This language seems to suggest that neither courts nor administrators have the power to keep polls open later. However, courts might not interpret this language literally.

Voters in line at the close of polls will be allowed to vote. MGLA 54 s 70.

Polling place closing times - local times

8:00 PM local time

Polling place closing times - by Eastern time zone

8:00 PM Eastern time

Ballot Security

EL@M did not research this topic for Massachusetts

Emergency Preparedness

EL@M did not research this topic for Massachusetts

Post-Election Processes

What Court Would Hear a Presidential Contest?

State supreme court

Massachusetts specifically authorizes contests of Presidential general elections. M.G.L.A. 54 § 119. These contests will be decided by the state’s highest court. Judicial officials in Massachusetts are appointed by the governor. See Mass. Const., Pt. 2, Chap. 3, Art. 1 and Pt. 2, Chap. 2, Sec. I, Ar. IX. Massachusetts statutes contain no provisions authorizing contests of Presidential primary elections. 

Who Performs Presidential recounts?


The board of registrars in each jurisdiction performs recounts. MGLA 54 s 135. Each board includes four people, no more than two of whom may be from any one political party. MGLA 51 s 15. Members of the board include the city or town clerk as well as three other members appointed by the mayor of a city or by the selectmen of a town. MGLA 51 s 15.

However, by local option cities can choose to have the mayor appoint all four members of the board. 51 s 17. By local option, some Massachusetts jurisdictions do not have boards of registrars, but instead have boards of election commissioners. MGLA 51 s 16A. These are also four-person boards, and two members of the board must represent the two leading political parties. Id. Election commissioners are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the local legislature. Id. Boards of election commissioners have the same duties as boards of registrars and thus, conduct recounts. Id.

The Massachusetts Secretary of State’s website provides no further information.