Skip to Content

General Laws

Section 1. Terms used in chapters fifty to fifty-seven, inclusive, shall be construed as follows, unless a contrary intention clearly appears:

“Aldermen” or “board of aldermen” shall include the board of election commissioners or election commission of any city having such a board or commission, as to all matters coming within the scope of their powers and duties, and as to such matters shall not apply to the city council of such city.

“Ballot labels” shall mean printed strips of cardboard or paper for use on voting machines, containing the names and addresses of candidates for each office and the questions submitted to the voters at the election except such questions as shall appear on separate ballots, as determined by the state secretary under section thirty-five A of chapter fifty-four.

“Caucus” shall apply to any public meeting of the voters of a precinct, ward or town, held under the laws relating to caucuses.

“Caucus officers” shall apply to chairmen, wardens, secretaries, clerks and inspectors, and, when on duty, to additional officers appointed or elected, or elected to fill a vacancy, and taking part in the conduct of caucuses.

“City clerk” shall include the board of election commissioners or election commission of any city having such a board or commission, with reference to all matters coming within the scope of their powers and duties, and as to such matters shall not apply to the city clerk of such city.

“City election” shall apply to any election held in a city at which a city officer is to be chosen by the voters, whether for a full term or for the filling of a vacancy, or at which any question to be voted upon at a city election is to be submitted to the voters.

“Convention” shall apply only to a meeting of delegates duly chosen in primaries or caucuses, representing two or more subdivisions of the district for which the convention is held.

“Direct plurality vote” shall mean the highest total vote, determined according to section two, received for a nomination at the primaries or caucuses in an entire electoral district.

“Election” shall apply to the choice by the voters of any public officer and to the taking of a vote upon any question by law submitted to the voters.

“Election officer” shall apply to wardens, clerks, inspectors and ballot clerks, and to their deputies when on duty, and also to selectmen, town clerks, moderators and tellers when taking part in the conduct of elections.

“Family member”, a spouse or person residing in the same household, in-laws, father, mother, sister or brother of the whole or half blood, son, daughter, adopting parent or adopted child, stepparent or stepchild, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, grandparent or grandchild.

“Federal act”, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, 42 USC 1973 gg to 1973 gg-10, inclusive, as may be amended from time to time.

“Listing board”, a board established by special law in a particular city or town to prepare lists of persons of voting age resident in the city or town and perform certain other duties in connection with said lists.

“Majority”, with reference to a question on the ballot, shall mean more than one half of those voting upon the question.

“Mayor” or “mayor and aldermen” shall include the board of election commissioners or election commission of any city having such a board or commission, with reference to all matters coming within the scope of their powers and duties, and as to such matters shall not apply to the mayor or city council of such city.

“Municipal party” shall apply to a party, not a political party as to state elections or state primaries, which at the preceding city or town election polled for mayor or a selectman at least three per cent of the entire vote cast in the city or town for that office, or, in a city, which files with the city clerk, at least sixty days before the annual or biennial municipal election, a petition to be allowed to place nominations of such party on the official ballot, signed in person by a number of registered voters of the city equal at least to three per cent of the entire vote polled in the city for mayor at the preceding election.

“Official ballot” shall mean a ballot prepared for any primary, caucus or election by public authority and at public expense, and where voting machines are used shall include ballot labels.

“Political committee” shall apply only to a committee elected as provided in chapter fifty-two, except that in chapter fifty-five it shall also apply, subject to the exception contained in section twenty-nine thereof, to every other committee or combination of five or more voters of the commonwealth who shall aid or promote the success or defeat of a candidate at a primary or election or the success or defeat of a political party or principle in a public election or shall favor or oppose the adoption or rejection of a question submitted to the voters.

“Political designation” shall apply to any designation required in section 8 of chapter 53, expressed in not more than three words, which a candidate for nomination under section 6 of chapter 53 represents, and to any designation expressed in not more than three words to qualify a political party under this section, filed by fifty registered voters with the secretary of state on a form provided by him or her, requesting that such voters, and any others wishing to do so, may change their registration to such designation, provided however, that the designation “Independent” shall not be used. Certificates showing that each of the signers of said request is a registered voter at the stated address, signed by the city or town clerk shall accompany the petition. Any such request filed before December first in the year of a biennial state election shall not be effective until said December first.

“Political party” shall apply to a party which at the preceding biennial state election polled for any office to be filled by all the voters of the commonwealth at least three percent of the entire vote cast in the commonwealth for such office, or which shall have enrolled, according to the first count submitted under section thirty-eight A of chapter fifty-three, a number of voters with its political designation equal to or greater than one percent of the entire number of voters registered in the commonwealth according to said count. Such parties shall be eligible to conduct primary elections at the next following biennial state election. With reference to municipal elections and primaries and caucuses for the nomination of city and town officers, “political party” shall include a municipal party.

“Presiding officer” shall apply to the warden or chairman at a caucus, to the warden, chairman of the selectmen, moderator, temporary moderator or town clerk in charge of a polling place at a primary or election, or to a justice of the peace acting as moderator at a town meeting, or, in the absence of any such officer, to the deputy warden or the clerk or senior inspector or senior selectman present who shall have charge of a polling place.

“Primary” shall apply to a joint meeting of political or municipal parties held under the laws relating to primaries.

“Registrars” or “registrars of voters” shall mean the board of registrars of voters of a city or town, and shall include the board of election commissioners or election commission of any city having such a board or commission, with reference to all matters coming within the scope of their powers and duties. “Registrar” shall, when applicable, mean a member of any of said boards.

“Registration agency”, a location where eligible citizens may register as voters, including city or town clerk’s offices, military recruitment offices, offices of the registry of motor vehicles and of all state agencies that provide public assistance or assistance to people with disabilities, offices that provide state-funded programs primarily engaged in providing services to people with disabilities, and any other offices which the state secretary shall designate by regulation.

“Specially qualified voter”, a person (a) who is otherwise eligible to register as a voter; and (b) (1) whose present domicile is outside the United States and whose last domicile in the United States was Massachusetts; or (2) whose present domicile is Massachusetts and who is:

(i) absent from the city or town of residence and in the active service of the armed forces or in the merchant marine of the United States, or a spouse or dependent of such person;

(ii) absent from the commonwealth; or

(iii) confined in a correctional facility or a jail, except if by reason of a felony conviction.

“State election” shall apply to any election at which a national, state, or county officer or a regional district school committee member elected district-wide is to be chosen by the voters, whether for a full term or for the filling of a vacancy.

“State officer” shall apply to, and include, any person to be nominated at a state primary or chosen at a state election and shall include United States senator and representative in Congress.

“Town” shall not include city.

“Town officer” shall apply to and include town meeting members.

“Two leading political parties” shall apply to the political parties which elected the highest and next highest number of members of the general court at the preceding biennial state election.

“Voter” shall mean a registered voter.

“Written acceptance” shall mean acceptance signed personally or by attorney duly authorized in writing.

Error