Decision 2020

Mail-in Ballot Delayed? You Can Still Vote in Person Tuesday in Massachusetts

You can visit to make sure your mail-in ballot has been received; if it hasn't, you can still vote in person to ensure that your vote is counted

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Like millions of Americans, Stephen Drebit wanted to avoid long lines at the polls on Tuesday, so the resident of Wakefield, Massachusetts, requested a mail-in ballot.

But every time he checked the mailbox, his ballot was missing. The delay was even more puzzling because when Drebit checked online at, the state's ballot-tracking website, it showed his ballot had been shipped out back on Oct. 8.

"I was concerned that something sinister was going on," he told the NBC10 Boston Investigators. "I thought my ballot was gone for good."

So what should you do if you're in a similar position come election day? Or perhaps you did mail your ballot, but the state's election website still shows it hasn't been returned?

"If you're confused in any way, shape or form, you should try to go vote in person," said Alex Psilakis of MassVOTE.

Election officials say a massive expansion of mail-in voting has been relatively smooth this year, though they're still waiting to receive a large share of mail-in ballots.

As of Monday morning, some 240,000 mail-in ballots sent to voters in Massachusetts had yet to be returned, though the number is expected to diminish in the coming days, Secretary of State William Galvin said. Some voters who requested mail-in ballots may also change their minds and vote in person on Tuesday, Galvin said.

MassVOTE, a nonpartisan voter advocacy group, is fielding numerous questions about the rules for mail-in ballots, Psilakis said. Some voters are concerned their ballot won't arrive in time and plan to vote in person instead, he said.

"The only case when you can't vote in person is if your mail-in vote has been accepted and processed," he explained. "If it hasn't arrived, then you could just vote normally. And if your mail ballot trickles in a couple of days after the election, they simply won't count it."

If you're still hanging on to your mail-in ballot, but you don't want to vote in person, you can also bring it to a collection box at your local town hall right up until the time polls close on Tuesday.

After Drebit contacted the NBC10 Boston Investigators about his missing ballot, we relayed his concerns to USPS. The Wakefield postmaster showed up at his house the next day, hand-delivering a new ballot and an apology, Drebit said.

"That was fantastic," he said, adding. "I was amazed, Ryan, that you were able to get action so quickly. I feel great that I was able to vote and my vote be counted."

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