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Election Department shares reminders ahead of Boston Preliminary Municipal Election

The City of Boston Election Department is reminding residents that Tuesday, September 14, 2021 is the Preliminary Municipal Election.

The Preliminary Election includes eight candidates for the Office of Mayor, 17 candidates for the Office of City Councillor at-Large and the following City Council Districts: District 4, District 6, District 7, District 9. The remaining districts are not required to have a preliminary election as there are already only one or two candidates running. 

The purpose of the Preliminary Municipal Election is to narrow the field of candidates whose names will appear on the official ballot at the Municipal Election on November 2. The Office of Mayor will be narrowed from eight candidates to two candidates. The Office of At-Large City Councillor will be narrowed from 17 candidates to eight candidates, and the Office of District City Councillor will be narrowed to two candidates.

On Election Day, polling locations in Boston will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Voters are encouraged to confirm their polling location for Election Day here.

Polling Location Updates

There are nine precinct polling location updates in the neighborhoods of East Boston, Fenway, Roxbury and Dorchester. The list can be downloaded from the Boston Election Department’s website: Polling Location Changes.

East Boston: Ward 1, Precinct 14 

New Location: Overlook Terrace 40 Vallar Rd, East Boston

Fenway: Ward 4 Precinct 5

New Location: Symphony Plaza East, 334 Massachusetts Ave., Boston

Fenway: Ward 4 Precinct 8

New Location: Symphony Plaza West, 333 Massachusetts Ave., Boston

Roxbury: Ward 9 Precinct 5

New Location: Marcus Garvey Gardens, 44 John Eliot Square, Roxbury

Dorchester: Ward 13 Precincts 7 and 8

New Location: Catherine Clark Apartments, 915 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester

Dorchester: Ward 16, Precinct 2

New Location: Richard J. Murphy School, Worrell St. Dorchester

Dorchester: Ward 16, Precinct 8 and Precinct 9

New Location: Adams Street Branch Library, 690 Adams St. Dorchester

Vote-By-Mail & Absentee Ballots

Voters who requested vote-by-mail ballots or absentee ballots must have their signed ballot returned to the Boston Election Department by 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 in order to be counted. Voters can track the status of their vote-by-mail ballots here. Vote-by-mail ballots can also be returned to the Election Department by dropping it off at any of the 20 drop boxes located around the City. All drop boxes will be locked promptly at 8 p.m. on Election Day. The Boston Election Department is advising voters to use one of the 20 drop boxes, as a vote-by-mail ballot sent by USPS has a possibility of reaching the Boston Election Department after the deadline. Voters returning their ballot by U.S. Mail should affix two first class postage stamps to the white envelope that contains the ballot package. 

If a voter brings a vote-by-mail ballot to their polling location, they will be provided with the opportunity to cast their vote in person. A poll worker will assist them in ensuring that their vote-by-mail ballot is discarded before casting the in-person vote. 

Voters who have changed their mind about voting by mail and their ballot has not been received by the Election Department, may vote in-person at their designated polling location. Voters can find their polling location for Election Day here.

In-person absentee voting is available until September 13, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. at the Election Department in Boston City Hall. To qualify to vote absentee, voters must be absent from the City on Election Day, must have a religious belief commitment which prevents them from going inside of a polling location, or have a physical disability which prevents them from going to a polling location. The application to request an absentee ballot can be completed in- person at the Election Department in City Hall. Learn more about applying here.


All polling locations are equipped with an Automark Voter Assistance Terminal, an electronic ballot marker designed for use by people who are unable to mark a ballot due to physical impairments or language barriers. Accessible features include a touch screen with zoom and contrast feature, multiple language translations, a keypad marked with Braille, puff-sip interface as well as an audio ballot feature.

Printed ballots will be available in English and Spanish, English and Chinese, and English and Vietnamese. For this year's Preliminary Municipal Election there are 437,647 registered voters in Boston. The Election Department has recruited and trained more than 1,800 poll workers to work at polling locations across the City that house 255 voting precincts. There are over 300 poll workers who are able to provide assistance in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, Cape Verdean, Russian, and Portuguese. All poll workers have been trained on following the COVID-19 safety protocols.

Due to COVID-19, the Election Department has implemented health and safety protocols for in-person voting during the early voting period and on Election Day. All poll workers will receive face masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes, disinfectant spray and hand sanitizer. Cleaning will take place at each site every three to four hours. Voters waiting in line will be instructed to stand six feet away from others and wear a face covering. More information about COVID-19 safety at the polls can be found here

Media guidelines

Members of the media are reminded that certain rules must be followed in order to ensure a smooth voting process. 

  • Interviews of voters are not allowed inside polling locations and must be done at least 150 feet away.
  • Interviews with election officers at the polling locations are not allowed. Interview requests for the Election Department should be directed through the Press Office at (617) 635-4461.
  • Photos and b-roll shots will be allowed under the supervision of each polling location's warden.
  • Photographers are reminded that zooming in on voter ballots and over-the-shoulder shots will not be allowed. Please respect every voter's right to a private ballot.
    • The City of Boston Election Department will also be available for b-roll shots starting at 7:30 a.m.
    • Unofficial results will be posted online at after the polls close at 8:00 p.m.
    • Updates will be provided periodically via our Facebook and Twitter account: @BostonElections
    • Please do not call the Election Department for results. You will only be referred to the website.

For more information about the Preliminary Municipal Election, please visit or contact the Boston Election Department 617-635-8683 or

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