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Mail-in voting rules cause confusion among Massachusetts voters

A voter heads to a Massachusetts place in a file photo.
Jesse Costa
/
WBUR
A voter heads to a Massachusetts place in a file photo.

Most of the 75 calls that have come into the Lawyers for Civil Rights' election protection hotline from around New England by midday Tuesday had come from Massachusetts, where the advocacy group reported that there is "significant confusion" around mail-in voting policies being used as a permanent feature of elections here for the first time.

"Across multiple jurisdictions, including Norfolk County, handling of vote-by-mail ballots continues to create significant confusion on the ground. People who requested but did not vote by mail-in ballots are improperly being blocked from voting in person in certain polling sites," Lawyers for Civil Rights said. "We are working closely with State officials to ensure that all of these individuals — who are entitled to vote in person using a regular ballot — can exercise their right to vote today."

The organization said it has also received reports of some city clerks or poll workers requiring an ID to vote including in New Braintree (there are some cases in which poll workers can ask for a voter to show ID), broken voting machines in Dorchester and New Bedford, and some of its own "election protection" volunteers being escorted away from voting locations by law enforcement. The group said it is working directly with state officials to try to resolve issues in real time.

If they haven't already voted, Massachusetts residents are going to the polls Tuesday to select a new governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and auditor, and to decide contests for secretary of state and treasurer. Voters will also determine the fate of policy questions dealing with a surtax on income above $1 million, dental care, alcohol sales and access to driver's licenses. Polls close at 8 p.m.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, more than 1.02 million Bay Staters had already voted either by mailing in their ballot or voting early in person, according to Secretary of State William Galvin's office.

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