Travel

How to Make Sure Your Vote Counts in Massachusetts This November

What you need to know ahead of the midterm elections, including key deadlines and how to vote by mail in Massachusetts.

Boston Election Department
Boston Election Department
Boston Election Department

The 2020 election was probably the most important one you’ve ever voted in, but let’s be clear: they’re all super important. And besides, this is one to be excited about! We get to choose a new governor for the first time in eight years. We have some interesting ballot questions to wade through. As always, all nine US Representatives are on the ballot. And above all, this is your time to exert your power as a state citizen.

So get your voting plan in order, make sure you’re informed, and get out there on November 8. To make things a bit easier, here’s everything you need to know to make your voice heard in the 2022 midterm elections in Massachusetts.

What’s on the ballot: key races and issues

There’s a fair bit going on! For starters, we’re voting for a new governor and lieutenant governor for the first time in eight years. On the ballot are former state representative Geoff Diehl (Republican) and state attorney general Maura Healey (Democrat). If elected, Healy would be the state’s first female governor and could be the first lesbian governor in the US. We’re also guaranteed a new attorney general, since Healey is now in the governor’s race. Plus, secretary of state, treasurer, and auditor are also on the ballot.

And we have four ballot measures to vote on: Question 1 would create a 4% tax on income over $1 million, with the money going to education and transportation initiatives. Question 2 is about the regulation of dental insurance (read more about it here). Question 3 changes the number of retail liquor licenses granted across the state. And Question 4 is a referendum vote on House BIll 4805, which expands the number of people who can apply for a driver’s license or motor vehicle registration.

What’s the deadline to register to vote in Massachusetts?

The deadline to register to vote in Massachusetts is October 29-in-person at the local election office by 5 pm, or online by 11:59 pm. If you choose to register by mail, your registration needs to be postmarked no later than October 29.

How to register to vote in Massachusetts

There are three main ways to register to vote: in person at your local city or town hall, online, or by mail. Not sure about your status? Go here to find out.

Can I vote early? When does early voting start in Massachusetts?

Yup. Early voting in the state-both in person and by mail-will take place from October 22 to November 4. However, dates and hours may vary based on where you live. Schedules for each town and city will be posted here no later than October 17.

Can I vote by mail?

Yes! Any registered voter in Massachusetts can request to do so.

How do I vote by mail?

Simply fill out the mail ballot application, and submit the request to your local election office. Applications can be mailed, hand-delivered to an election office, voting site, or drop box, or submitted electronically by fax or email as long as your signature is visible. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is November 1 at 5 pm, but the sooner, the better.

How to find your polling place

Easy peasy! Head to this site and enter your residential address.

How to vote absentee in Massachusetts

There are three different circumstances that qualify you for an absentee ballot: You’re away from your home city or town on Election Day, you have a disability that keeps you from voting at your polling place, or you have a religious belief that prevents you from voting on Election Day. That said, most folks who qualify for an absentee ballot can instead apply for an early vote by mail ballot. PS: If you’re mailing back your absentee ballot, it must be postmarked by November 8 and received by November 12 at 5pm.

How to volunteer as a poll worker

First of all, do it! It’s one of the most immediate ways to assure the integrity of our elections; plus, you get to meet your neighbors. The best thing to do is visit your town or city’s page to fill out an online form-for example, here’s the information for becoming a poll worker in Boston.

Additional Massachusetts voting resources

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Meaghan Agnew is a Thrillist contributor.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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