BOSTON (WWLP) – The state primary just three weeks away and the state is reminding residents to not wait to send in mail-in ballots.

This June, Governor Baker signed into law the VOTES Act, which codified no-excuse vote by mail and expanded early voting. Now, the Secretary of State is calling on voters to get their ballots in.

No excuse mail-in voting became a popular option during COVID-19 and helped produce a record turnout. Under the VOTES Act, that is now a permanent option for presidential, state and municipal elections.

Now, Secretary of State Bill Galvin is urging voters who have received their mail-in ballots to return them as quickly as possible. The state primary is being held on September 6th and all ballots must be received by an individual’s local election office no later than 8 p.m. that night.

Secretary of State William Galvin told 22News that roughly 12 percent of voters have already requested to vote by mail, “If you’re going to try to vote by mail and you have your ballot, we’re advising, vote and mail it back as soon as you can. If you’re going to apply later, then you perhaps want to look into the availability of drop boxes or hand returning it back to your clerk.”

If you wish to vote by mail and haven’t already applied, you can submit an application through the Election’s Division’s new online ballot request portal. To qualify to vote in the primary by mail, your application must reach your local election office no later than 5 p.m. on August 29th.

Given postal delivery times, if you are a last minute applicant and want to guarantee your ballot is counted, you should plan to return your ballot in-person or by drop box. If you don’t plan to vote by mail but wish to vote early, early voting will be occurring between August 27th and September 2nd.