Annual Town Census / Street List

Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 51, § 4 mandates an annual street listing (town census) of residents as of January 1st of each year. All residents are mailed a pre-filled form in January; please return the form by mail or in the drop box located outside Town Hall, 6 Town Hall Drive.

Annual Street List

What is the history behind the census?

Now known as the annual street list, the Massachusetts annual town census goes back to the 1600s, 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 a man’s length of residency and having paid taxes. By 1879, with womens' rights activists leading the suffrage movement, the Massachusetts legislature passed a law allowing women to vote, under the same requirements as men, but only for members of the School Committee. On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified, granting suffrage to all American women, ultimately guaranteeing women the legal rights and liberties to vote. The law requiring an annual town census has been amended over the years, and currently, Massachusetts General Law Chapter 51 requires that the Board of Registrars conduct the annual town census. In Princeton, as in most towns, the Town Clerk's Office does the work, under the direction of the Board of Registrars. While it was originally done house-to-house, after 1960, mail became the primary method of communication for the annual town census. 

Voting Census Privileges

Is it confidential?

In each town only a few persons are authorized to have access to the information that you provide, and there are multiple layers of password protection on the computers where the information is stored. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts maintains the security of the system in accordance with Massachusetts data security laws. Information about minors on the street list is never released to the public. Additionally, there are a few specially protected classes of residents whose names do not appear on the public street list, such as public safety personnel and residents of shelters. 

What if this is not my primary residence?

You are still required to complete the Annual Street list. This will not affect your voting status in another location. This list is required so we can account for each home.

How is the information used? / Why is it important to return your street list form?

The information from the returned street list forms has many different uses. These are some of them:

  • The Town Clerk uses it to maintain the list of registered voters as the street list establishes legal residence for voting privileges and town benefits
  • To help the town keep an up-to-date list of where residents live. Each year, per MGL, the Town Clerk uses census responses to publish a street list that is distributed to police, fire, and emergency personnel who use this information to assist Princeton residents.
  • Helps the town determine grants and assists the town and state in calculating State and Federal aid and reimbursements
  • The School Department can request reports to help them to project future levels of school enrollment and school registration outreach. These reports are based off the census. 
  • The Council on Aging uses the information when applying for grants and to estimate the possible demand for services to those over age 60.
  • 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 Veterans Agent receives a list of the U.S. Military veterans in Town, so that she can help veterans with their needs.
  • The presence of a persons’ name on the street list may also be used to establish residency for a number of legal requirements such as: to qualify for in-state college tuition; for job applications or special low-cost loan programs;  adoption applications, housing benefits, veterans benefits, and insurance benefits.
  • It’s important to return your street list, because years from now, you may need to prove that you or your children lived in Princeton or resided in Massachusetts at a certain time, and the street list for that year is the proof of residency.

What happens if I don’t return the form?

Registered voters who do not return the Annual Street List Form and do not respond to a follow-up mailing must be designated as inactive voters on the street list. In accordance with Mass General Law, all of the registered voters at the address will become inactive in June. 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. Completing the Annual Census is an expense every year and that expense can be decreased by increased compliance with completing the Annual Census within ten days of receiving it. 

Last year I indicated that someone moved out, so why are they are still on the form?

A registered voter who moves out of town or out of state can not be removed from the Princeton voter registration system without that voter's signature and written statement that they have moved out of Princeton. The Town Clerk, as a member of the Board of Registrars, must verify the signature on the statement to the voter card, if the signature is deemed not that of the voter, then that person will not be deleted. In June, registered voters who do not respond to the census are made inactive and will be deleted after a period of time in accordance of M.G.L Ch. 51, Section 37A.

The name and address of a voter that is not entered in the annual register pursuant to section 37 for 2 consecutive years and who during that time fails to vote in any election shall be maintained on an inactive voters list until such voter has failed to vote in two consecutive biennial state elections and has thereafter been notified, by mail, of such removal from the inactive voters list. (M.G.L Ch. 51, Section 37A.)

Who should complete the street list form?

Any adult residing in the home can complete and sign the form.

What do I need to do with 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 Town Clerk.
  • Be sure that your household phone number is listed on the form - your number will only be used for emergency purposes. 
  • Add any new people who reside at your address, and indicate with “M” or “D” if someone has moved away or died. Students away at school, people who have moved to a nursing home or those away in the military are still considered residents of Princeton, and can remain on the form as well as remain active voters in our community as long as they do not register to vote in another community. 
  • Check to see that the date of birth is correct for each person. This is essential and needs to be added for each person added to the census. Your information cannot be added without a date of birth. 
  • Please add or correct the occupations listed on the form.
  • The “Party” column tells you what each person’s voter registration status is. U stands for “unenrolled” which means not enrolled in any particular political party. This is what most people mean when they say “independent”. The other common political designations are: D for Democrat, R for Republican, L for Libertarian, and J for Green Rainbow. No letter in the “Party” column means the person is not registered to vote in Princeton.
  • You cannot use the Street List Form to register to vote, to do that you need to complete a new Voter Registration Form. You can register to vote or change your party online at You can check to see if you are registered to vote and where at

Any registered voters in a household that fail to complete and return the annual census before June 1st of each year will lose their "active voter" status. Any questions or concerns, please email the Town Clerk, Alissa Horsung, at

Thank you