Annual Municipal Census
As required by Statute, the Commonwealth mandates that the City of Fall River conduct the Annual Street Listing (Census) at the beginning of each year.
The municipal census contains the information of all members of the household, including the address, names, dates of birth, occupations, voter registration status, veteran status, nationality (if not a U.S. citizen) and number of dogs. ALL occupants of the household, including children, should be listed on the census form. The form needs to be signed by the resident (under the penalties of perjury), dated and returned to the Board of Elections Office in the envelope provided within ten (10) days of receipt. If there are no changes, the form still needs to be signed and returned to the Board of Elections Office.
What you need to do when you received your census form:
Upon receipt of the census form, you will review it and make any necessary corrections to names, dates of birth, occupations, apartment number or deaths.
Anyone temporarily away from home including students, men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces or federal personnel who wish to residency in Fall River should be listed with their parents or other relatives.
Once completed, census forms must be returned to the Board of Elections Department within ten (10) days. All forms, including those with NO changes must be signed, dated and returned in order for our office to update the current years’ census information.
What is the History behind the Municipal Census?
Now known as the annual street listing, the Massachusetts annual town/city census goes back to the 1600’s, when men who wished to become registered voters were qualified to vote if their property was of sufficient value. By 1860, the qualifications had changed from just property value to also include men’s length of residency and having paid taxes. In 1890, women were also allowed to vote, under the same requirements, but only for members of the School Committee! The law requiring an annual municipal census has been amended over the years, and currently M.G.L. Chapter 51 requires that the Board of Elections conduct the annual census. While it was originally conducted house-to-house by the police on behalf of the Chairman, since the mid-1970’s the census information has been gathered via the mail.
Is it confidential?
The Secretary of the Commonwealth maintains the security of the Voter Registry Information System (VRIS) in accordance with Massachusetts data security laws. The voter registry and municipal census are part of the public record. All Information about minor children (under the age of 16) and public safety personnel are protected as confidential and not a record for public access. This information is accessible to the School Committee and Police Department as required by the laws of the Commonwealth.
Information about veterans residing in the city is protected as confidential by statute and can only be released to the Veterans’ Services Officer, Adjutant General, and Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs.
There are NO social security numbers or financial information tied to any person with the municipal census.
How is the information used?
The information from the returned census has many different uses. Including the following:
- The Board of Elections Department uses it to maintain the list of registered voters and to keep an up-to-date list of residential addresses.
- The School Department can request reports to help them project future levels of school enrollment. A copy of the census containing the information of school aged children is provided to the School Committee as required by law.
- The Council on Aging uses information when applying for grants and to estimate the possible demand for services to those residents over the age of 60.
- The Veteran’s Services Officer receives a list of the U.S. Military veterans in the city, so he/she can assist veterans with their needs.
- The Office of the Jury Commissioner uses each community’s street list to compile a list of residents for jury duty. An accurate list provides for a fair and representative jury pool.
- The presence of a person’s name on the municipal census may be used to establish residency for several reasons: to qualify for in-state college tuition, for job applications, special loan programs, adoption applications, veterans’ bonus, etc.
- It’s also important to return your annual census, because years from now, you may need to prove that you or your children lived in Fall River or resided in Massachusetts at a certain time, and the census for that year is proof of residency.
*Proof of Residency can only be certified by the Chairman & Director of the Board of Elections if your municipal census form has been returned*
What happens if I don’t return the census form?
Registered voters who do not return the annual census form and do not respond to a follow-up mailing must be designated as inactive voters on the municipal census and voter registry. All registered voters at the address will become inactive. Such persons will only be eligible to vote after they fill out an “Affirmation of Current and Continuous Residence” the next time they come to vote. Every household that fails to complete the form has to be contacted a second time, which takes additional time, paper, and postage.
Last year I indicated that someone moved out, so why are they still on my census?
A registered voter who moved and does not register to vote in another community cannot be removed from our municipal census for three years. That is why you may have told us someone moved but they still appear on your form. The best thing to do is to ask them to register to vote in their new community, and by doing so his or her name will no longer appear on your census.
Who should complete the census form? What should I review?
Any adult residing in the home can complete and sign the form.
- Please look over the names listed on the form. If there are no changes to the pre-printed information, simply sign and return the form to the Board of Elections Office.
- Add any new people who reside at your address, as well as students away at school and members of the U.S. Armed Forces who wish to retain a Fall River.
- If a resident in your household has died, draw a line through their name and write-in the date of death in the corresponding box.
- If a resident has moved out of your residence, draw a line through their name and place an “X” in the corresponding box. Please fill in their new information at the bottom of the census form (“Moved box”). If the individual is a registered voter, they must sign the form in order for their new information to be updated by our office.
- Check to see that the date of birth is correct for each individual person.
- Please add or correct occupations listed on the form.
- The “Voter” column tells you the voter registration status of each resident. “U” stands for “Unenrolled” (formerly known as Independent) which means you are not enrolled in any particular political party. The other designations are: “D” for Democrat, “R” for Republican and “L” for Libertarian. If any other letter appears, you are in a Political Designation and considered Unenrolled for purposes of voting in State Primaries. (Meaning, you will have your choice of ballot for state primary elections, same as Unenrolled voters.) No letter in the party column means the person is not registered to vote in Fall River. Voters who make any political affiliation changes must sign the form.
- You cannot use the municipal census form to register to vote. Please call the Board of Elections office at 508-324-2630 to request a Voter Registration Card. Or you can register to voter online via Secretary Galvin’s website at: Online Voter Application (state.ma.us)
For Your Convenience, you can return your municipal census form by:
- Mailing it to the Board of Elections office in the envelope provided.
- At the Government Center drop box in the drop-off box located in the mail lobby or at the Elections Office, Room#636
- At the following business establishments:
- Chaves Market, 49 Columbia Street
- Seabra Supermarket, 440 Stafford Road
- Shaw’s Supermarket, 4171 North Main Street
- Stop & Shop Supermarket, 213 Mariano S. Bishop Boulevard
What if I have other questions or concerns?
Please feel free to call the office at 508-324-2630, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by the Board of Elections office to ask for more information. The annual municipal census is a very important tool for the city, and the information needs to be as accurate as possible. The law regarding the annual municipal census/street listing can be found in M.G.L. Chapter 51, although other chapters of the law also apply.