How Do I Vote?
This page answers some common questions, like:
- What is a “polling
- It is a place where registered voters go to vote on
election days. Other names for a polling place are: “a
polling location,” “the polls,” and just “polls.”
Brockton has 28 polling places all over the city.
Polling places are always in buildings that residents
already know about ... like libraries, schools, senior
housing, and the senior center.
All polling places are easy to get to by people who are
in wheelchairs. It's the law. People who cannot walk well
can also get to the polling places easily. Brockton's
polling places now have voting machines for people who
- How will I know where to
- The Elections Commission in City Hall will tell you
when you register to vote.
You can also call the Elections Commission at
508-580-7117 and ask.
You can also go online to the official web site of the
City of Brockton: www.brockton.ma.us. Look on the
right for “Where do I vote?” Click on that link. Type in
- How will I know when to
- The Elections Commission puts a notice about voting
in The Enterprise newspaper.
On election day, EVERY polling place in the city puts
a sign out front that tells voters that voting is going
on there all day.
Also on election day, the city puts out some signs on
“election sandwich boards.” The signs say VOTE TODAY in 5 languages. Look on street
corners for these “sandwich boards.”
The polls are open for 13 hours.
This helps everyone find a time to go vote: before work
or school, during lunch hour, after work or school, or
before a night shift.
EVERY polling place is open from 7:00 in the morning
until 8:00 at night. It's the law.
- Does voting take a long
- Polling places often have lines in the early morning,
at Noon, and after work. If you will be in a hurry, try
to vote at other times.
If the ballot has a lot of names to read, voting can take
more than a few minutes.
The 2007 “Preliminary” ballot for September 18 is very
short. It has only the names of the 3 candidates who are
running for mayor. (View a
- What is the
- It is an election to choose just 2 winning candidates
from all the candidates who are running for an office.
Some election years do not have a Preliminary.
If there is a Preliminary, it is in September before the
November General Election. In 2007, Brockton has a
Preliminary on September 18 because 3 candidates want to
be mayor. The winners will be on the ballot on November
- What is a polling place
- Every polling place is a place where every voter has
privacy and security to vote the way he or she wants to
Inside, no one may wear campaign buttons. No one may show
information to anyone about any candidate. It's the law.
Outside, people must carry their signs about different
candidates 150 feet away from where people are walking in
to vote. It's the law. There are almost no exceptions.
Outside every polling place, the Elections Commission
ALWAYS posts a ballot that looks just like the ballot
voters use to vote. The ballot that is outside has the
word “SPECIMEN” stamped in large letters on it.
No one can use the SPECIMEN ballot to vote. You can stop
to study this SPECIMEN ballot before you go in to vote.
At some polling places, there is a second SPECIMEN
ballot. It is posted lower ... at the height for people
who are in wheel chairs.
- What people are at the
- There is a police officer on duty. The officer makes
sure that no one carries any signs or information about
candidates into or near the polling place.
The officer supervises the final voting-machine count
when the polls close at 8:00 PM.
There might be a “checker.” A checker sits outside the
voting area and listens to the names of voters who are
Checkers work for the candidates. Candidates often want
to know if their supporters are voting. The law says they
can sit and listen, but checkers may not talk to the poll
workers or to the voters in the voting area.
- Do I need to bring an ID with me to
Not usually. These are the reasons you do need an ID:
If you forget to bring an ID, tell a poll worker.
You can mark a ballot, but you will put the ballot
inside an envelope and give it to a poll worker. The
poll worker will wait for you to return.
- If you registered by mail and are voting for the
- If this is the first time you are voting in
- If you have not voted for a long time.
If you come back to the polls with an ID before 8:00
PM, you can check in, slide your ballot into the voting
machine and check out. Then your vote will be counted.
- Here's how to vote:
- Check in and get a ballot.
- Check out.
- Slide your ballot into the voting machine
with your own hands.
- When you walk in, two poll
workers will be sitting at a table in front of you or
to one side.
One poll worker will ask FIRST for
your address, THEN for your name. All voters
are listed by their street addresses.
This poll worker must, by law, say your name quite
loudly when you check in. There are 2 very good reasons why
voters' names are read loudly.
The other poll worker will give you a ballot and ask
if you know how to mark your ballot.
You do not need to remember which political party you
chose when you registered. It is next to your name on
the voting list.
In a general election, the poll worker will give you
the ballot for the party you chose. If you registered
as "Unenrolled," you can choose which ballot to take.
You will be “Unenrolled” again after you vote.
If you want to change your party, you can do that at
anytime at the Elections Commission office, but you
cannot change your party when you check in.
For some elections, everyone gets the same ballot.
Choose which voting booth you want to
use. Go behind the curtain. Use ONLY the
marker that is already in the voting booth, and
mark your ballot.
If you want to, you can write in someone's name who
is not on the ballot. Write the name on the blank
line AND ALSO fill in the oval at
the end of the line. The Accu-Vote machine will
read the oval; the poll workers will read the name
you wrote in.
What if I want
some help reading and marking the
You can change your
mind about a candidate. You might make
a mistake. No problem. Tell a poll worker that
want a new ballot. The law says that you can
have up to 2 new ballots, so do not try to
erase a mark or cross out a vote. The poll
worker will take your old ballot and give you a
- You can bring a relative or a friend with you
into the voting booth.
- You can bring a print-out of the SAMPLE
ballot from the city's website. You cannot show
your SAMPLE ballot to anyone in the polling place
or near it.
- You can bring a piece of paper that has the
names of the candidates on it whom you want to
vote for. You cannot show your paper with a name
or names on it to anyone in or near the polling
- You can ask the poll workers for help. If you
ask for help, two poll workers always go into the
voting booth with you. This is your guarantee
that no one will try to persuade you to vote for
one candidate or the other.
- When you are finished voting, go
to the next table to “check out.” Do not
give your ballot to the poll worker.
Just like check-in, the poll worker will ask FIRST
for your address, and THEN for your name. Again, the
poll worker will say your name quite loudly.
- The last thing to do is to slide your
ballot into the slot on top of the voting
machine. You do this yourself. It is your right and
your privilege. It doesn't matter which end of the
ballot you put in first. Turn your ballot face down
so that no one will see your votes.
There will be a poll worker standing near the voting
machine. Do not show your ballot to the poll worker.
The poll worker is there to be sure voters know how
to slide their ballots into the slot and also to help
if, for example, the machine does not accept the
- Why didn't the voting machine
take my ballot?
- The poll worker will read the reason why in a window
on the machine and tell you. Sometimes a voter fills in
too many ovals. Maybe you will need to mark another
ballot. Maybe you will just need to slide your ballot
into the slot again.
- How does the voting machine count
- After the polls close, the Accu-Vote machine runs a
paper tape that shows all the votes for all the
candidates. Poll workers post these results right away
near the SPECIMEN ballot for anyone to look at.
- Why do Check-In and
Check-Out poll workers read voters' names so loudly?
- Because “checkers” from the candidates are
allowed to hear who has voted, and the checkers sit
outside the voting area.
- From “the old days,” saying someone's name loudly
made sure that the person checking in or checking out
REALLY WAS that person. Today, if the voter is not
that person, someone might say, “Hey, that's not
Joe!” or “That's not Josephine!”
- It is another guarantee that every voter votes at
only one place and only one time in each