Section 42. Except as provided in section forty-one A, under the designation of the office, the names of the candidates for re-election to any office to be filled at a state election of which they are the elected incumbents shall be placed first on the ballot in alphabetical order according to their surnames; next and in like order the names of candidates of political parties, as defined in chapter fifty, and the names of all other candidates shall follow in like order.
Under the designation of the office, the names of candidates for each municipal elective office shall, except as city charters otherwise provide, be arranged alphabetically according to their surnames, except that names of candidates for re-election to any such office of which they are the elected incumbents or the incumbents chosen by vote of the board of aldermen or city council in a city, or the incumbents chosen by joint convention of the board of aldermen or city council and school committee, shall be placed first on the ballot in alphabetical order according to their surnames, next and in like order the names of candidates of political parties as defined in chapter fifty, and the names of all other candidates shall follow in like order. A candidate for election to the same office in a precinct, ward or district which contains any portion of the territory which he was elected to represent at the last preceding municipal or state election for that office shall be considered an elected incumbent within the meaning of this section; provided, however, that a district alderman, councilor or school committee member seeking election as an at-large alderman, at-large councilor or at-large school committee member shall not be considered an incumbent. The names of candidates for different terms of service in the same office shall be arranged in groups according to the length of their respective terms, and the names of candidates nominated by single wards but to be voted for at large, shall be arranged in groups by wards in like order. In the case of representatives in congress, the designation may be ''congressman''. Blank spaces shall be left at the end of the list of candidates for each different office equal to the number to be elected thereto, in which the voter may insert the name and address of any person not printed on the ballot for whom he desires to vote for such office; provided, however, that a mistake in stating the address of such person shall not invalidate a vote if the address stated is sufficient to indicate the person for whom the vote was intended. If the approval of any question is submitted to the voters, it shall be printed on the ballot after the names of the candidates.
The names and addresses of the candidates for regional district school committees elected district-wide at state elections who are elected incumbents shall be placed first on the ballot in alphabetical order according to their surnames; and the names and addresses of all other such candidates shall follow in like order. No political or other designation shall appear on the ballot. There shall be printed such directions as shall instruct the voter to vote for the appropriate number of candidates from each community. If the state secretary cannot accommodate all the names on the ballot in a particular community, he may in his discretion print a separate paper ballot for candidates for regional district school committees.
Ballots shall be so printed as to give to each voter an opportunity to designate by a cross (X), in a square at the right of the name and designation of each candidate, or of each group of candidates for governor and lieutenant governor and at the right of each question, his choice of candidates and his answer to such question; and upon the ballots may be printed such directions as will aid the voter; for example, ''vote for one,'' ''vote for not more than two,'' ''yes,'' ''no,'' and the like. On each ballot shall be printed the words ''Official Ballot for'', followed by the name of the electoral district, city or town for which the ballot is prepared, and, if the content of the ballot differs within a city or town, the ward and precinct of the city or the precinct of the town, if any, the date of the election, and a facsimile of the signature of the officer who has caused the ballot to be prepared. The state secretary shall prepare a sufficient number of ballots for the use of persons qualified under section one F of chapter fifty-one to vote for electors of president and vice president, upon which there shall be so printed the words ''Official Presidential Elector Ballot for'', followed by the date of the election and a facsimile of the signature of the state secretary. A blank space shall be left at the end of the list of candidates for president and vice president in which the voter may insert the surnames of candidates for president and vice president, which are contained in lists submitted to the state secretary as provided by section seventy-eight A.