How to Register to Vote
You may visit the Town Clerk’s Office in the Dover Town House and complete a voter registration form in person. Or, you may obtain a mail-in voter registration form from any United States Post Office, Library and various other locations throughout the state. Mail-in forms may be obtained also by calling the State Elections Division at (800) 462-VOTE. Additionally, the state registries of motor vehicles, social service agencies and military recruitment offices provide voter registration services.
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 affiliation and become unenrolled (commonly referred to as an independent).
If you choose to register with a political party, you will be able to receive the ballot only of your selected party in a primary election. Your registration status also affects your ability to run for office in a partisan election.
Who May Register?
Any person who is a Massachusetts resident, a United States citizen and will be eighteen 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 increased recently to a fine of ten thousand dollars or imprisonment for up to five years, or both.
You will remain on the list of voters so long as you vote regularly and complete and return the annual municipal census. If you move to another city or town, you must re-register in your new community.
Be aware that there are voter registration deadlines. You must register to vote at least twenty days before any Town or State election or the Presidential Primary. Call our office for registration deadlines. For additional information call the Town Clerk at (508) 785-0032 ext. 226.
The Voting Process
The polls are open in Dover on election day from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. For all elections, voting is at the Dover Town House in the Great Hall.
When you approach the check-in tables, seek the table that displays the alphabet sequence that includes the first letter of your street. First tell the poll worker the name of street where you live, then the number of your residence, and finally your name and your party. As the voters list is arranged by street, this is the quickest way to receive your ballot and keep any 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 (commonly referred to as an independent 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.
What to Do If Your Name Is not on the Voters List
If your name does not appear on the list of voters, the Warden should contact the Town Clerk to determine if you are considered an inactive voter. If you cannot be qualified to vote but believe you are registered, you may request a provisional ballot. The provisional ballot allows you to cast your vote. It will at a later date be researched and if you are determined to be a valid voter your vote will be counted.
Casting Your Votes
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 the 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 you may 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.
*You are limited to 3 ballots.
State law prohibits the display of political paraphernalia within 150 feet of the entrance to the polling location. Signs, stickers and even lapel buttons are not permitted within this restricted zone.
Absentee Voting Requirements
Voters who are unable to vote on election day because of physical disability, religious beliefs or travel may vote by absentee ballot. State law limits the availability of absentee ballots to those three listed circumstances only. Absentee ballots are not available for mere convenience, or because of ordinary commuting-related difficulties. If you will be absent from Dover for an extended period of time, you may submit a single application for all elections occurring within the year the application is accepted.
Obtaining an Application for an Absentee Ballot
Print the following applications out, fill them in, and mail them to the Town Clerk’s office (P.O. Box 250 Dover, MA 02030)
Applications for absentee ballots may be obtained from the Town Clerk or the Office of the Secretary of State. Applications may be submitted in person and by mail. The voter, or a family member (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 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. 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 in the application. You will not become registered in a political party because of your participation in a state primary.
Returning the Application for an Absentee Ballot
Applications for absentee ballots must be applied for from the Town Clerk before 12:00 noon 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.) Absentee ballots generally are available three weeks before an election.
If the voter submits the application in person, he may obtain the ballot and vote over-the-counter . The voter should first check with the office to see if the ballots are available. 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 by mail to the voter. And in all other cases, the ballot is sent by mail.
A list of all voters who obtained absentee ballots is sent to the poll locations to prevent an absentee voter from voting a second time.
Permanently Disabled Voters
A voter who is permanently disabled need not submit a request for an absentee ballot for every election. If such a voter submits a note from a registered physician indicating that the voter is permanently disabled, the Town Clerk will send the voter an application for an absentee ballot twenty-eight days before the first election each year. The application will be as complete as the Town Clerk can make it. The voter in most cases will only have to sign the application, return it, and indicate that the voter would like an absentee ballot for every election in that year. Upon the Town Clerk’s receipt of the signed application, the voter will be sent an absentee ballot.
Specially Qualified Voters
In addition to registered voters, certain specially qualified voters may vote by absentee ballot. A specially qualified voter is a person who is a Massachusetts citizen, living outside of the United States, who is at least eighteen years old and whose last residence in the United States was Massachusetts. You also may be a specially qualified voter if you are otherwise eligible to be a registered voter, and your present domicile (a place where you live and plan to remain) is Massachusetts and you are: 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.
When the Name of an Applicant Does Not Appear on the Voters List
In the event that the Town Clerk cannot find the name of a voter requesting an absentee ballot, the voter must be sent a provisional ballot with a letter explaining the reason. The provisional ballot allows you to cast your votes. Provisional ballots will not be counted in the tally of votes unless any race is close enough that the number of provisional ballots could affect the outcome. In such cases, the Registrars of Voters will review each of the provisional ballots individually to determine which should be counted.
Return of Ballots
If the voter submits the application in person, he may obtain the ballot (call first to see 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 envelopes must be signed by the voter, or if the voter is unable to sign, by an assisting person.
In general, in order to be counted , absentee ballots must be received before the polls close on election day. However, absentee ballots for the state general election that are 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 Dover Town elections or state primaries.
Board of Registrars
As required by M.G.L. Chapter 51, Section 15, there shall be a Board of Registrars of voters consisting of the Town Clerk and three other persons who shall be appointed by the selectmen for the term of three years. In the original and in each succeeding appointment and in filling vacancies, registrars of voters shall be so appointed that the members of the Board shall represent the two leading political parties, and in no case shall an appointment be so made as to cause a Board to have more than two members, including the Town Clerk, of the same political party.
Barrie Clough, Town Clerk