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The Importance of Voting

Voting is crucial for a healthy democracy, but unfortunately, not enough people participate. This leads to gaps in representation and widening wealth disparities. Imagine how different our world would be if everyone participated in the democratic process. One major reason for low voter turnout is lack of information and outreach, especially in communities served by nonprofits. However, we can make a difference by encouraging civic participation and educating families about the importance of voting.

Threats to Voting

At the National Level:

  • ID Requirements: States such as GA, IN, KS, MS, TN, VA, and WI mandate photo identification for voting. Meanwhile, AZ, ND, and OH have strict ID requirements that may not necessitate a photo.

  • ID Requirements (Broader): In AK, AL, FL, HI, ID, LA, MI, RI, SD, TX, CO, CT, DE, IA, KY, MO, MT, NH, NC, OK, SC, UT, WA, and WV, voters are required to present some form of ID at the polls.

  • Election Day Registration: While 21 states and D.C. offer same-day registration, states like MA impose early registration cutoffs, disenfranchising many potential voters.

  • Voter Purges: Significant voter list purges have occurred, with over 10% of registrations removed in Georgia and North Carolina between 2016 and 2018, and more than 7% in Florida. Alabama saw 658,000 voters purged since 2015, a substantial number given its 3.3 million registered voters in 2016.

  • Impact on Students: In states like New Hampshire, Texas, Florida, and Michigan, election policies have made it particularly challenging for young voters, including students, to participate in elections.

  • Find out more about voting protections and issues at the national level at Brennan Center for Justice.

 

Read the Report:

February election rumors: noncitizen voting and voting machine vulnerabilities

Findings for February 2024 with data on messaging to counter election rumors.

Voting Resources for Massachusetts Residents

  1. Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth - Elections Division: The official website of the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth offers comprehensive information on elections, voter registration, polling places, and more.

  2. Massachusetts Voter Information: This website provides information on voter registration, absentee voting, early voting, polling place locations, and election results. 

  3. Massachusetts Voter Registration Information: This site allows you to check your voter registration status, update your registration, and find information on absentee and early voting. 

  4. VoteSmart Massachusetts: VoteSmart offers a range of voter resources including candidate profiles, voting records, election information, and more. 

  5. Ballotpedia - Massachusetts: Ballotpedia provides information on elections, candidates, ballot measures, and more at the state and local levels in Massachusetts

 

​Stay up to date on Massachusetts voting and election news and updates. 

  1. MA Elections Updates

  2. Massachusetts College Voter Guide

  3. Massachusetts Ballot Questions

National Voting Resources

  • Who can register to vote in Massachusetts?
    To register to vote in this state, you must: 1. Currently living in Massachusetts. No length of stay required. 2. Be a U.S. citizen. 3. Be at least 16 years old to register to vote
  • How do I register to vote?
    To register to vote you must: 1. Fill out a registration card. Mail it to your town or city clerk/election department. 2. Also register in person at your town hall or city election department. Get a card from a local non-profit, election clerk, or library. 3. Go to the website of the MA Secretary of State to print out a registration form.
  • What are the registration deadlines?
    Registration cards must be postmarked or delivered 20 days before an election in Massachusetts.
  • Do I have to re-register every year?
    No. Your registration is valid unless you: 1. Change your address 2. Change your name 3. Did not vote in two consecutive State Elections and have moved. State elections are held in every even year — 2012, 2014, 2016, etc.
  • What if I move?
    If you move, make sure to re-register at your new address by filling out another registration card in your city/town.
  • If I forget to re-register at my new address in time for the election, can I still vote at my old address?"
    Yes. Register at your new address by filling out a registration card and mailing it to your local Election Department. If you haven’t changed your address you may be able to vote at your old address. Call your local election department.
  • What about enrolling in a political party?
    You have three options: 1. Register in a Party: You may register to vote in one of the three parties in Massachusetts who have qualified for official party status–Democrat or Republican. 2. Register with No Party Affiliation: In Massachusetts, you may list yourself as “Unenrolled” which means you do not have a party designation. Remember that you will still have the option to vote in a major party primary (e.g., Democrat or Republican). 3. Another “Political Designation”: You can also choose from a party that is not considered an official party in Massachusetts. Like “Unenrolled” status, if you choose a separate party affiliation, you will still have the option to vote in a major party primary.
  • What does it mean to choose "unenrolled"?"
    Being unenrolled in Massachusetts means that you are registered to vote but not a member of a party. You may still vote in a Democratic or Republican primary without affecting your “unenrolled” status. “Unenrolled” is commonly referred to as independent.
  • I became a new citizen after the deadline to register to vote. Can I still vote?
    Yes. As a new citizen, you may register to vote after the deadline. Go in person to the Election Department at City Hall up until 4 PM on the day before the election. You must bring your dated naturalization papers for them to copy. (MGL Chapter 51, Section 50)
  • Which parts of the registration form are required?
    On a voter registration form you are required to provide: 1. Name First Name. Middle Initial or Name. Last Name. Other- Jr. III etc. 2. Former name if you are changing your name. 3. Current street address and Apt # for your voter registration. No PO Boxes. 4. Mailing address if you use a Post Office Box. 5. Birth date 6. Party affiliation. “Unenrolled” for no party. 7. Old registration address if you were registered before. 8. Date 9. Signature 10. An identification number: Your Driver’s License # or the last four digits of your Social Security #. If you don’t have these, write “None”.
  • Which are optional?
    Phone Number… or information that does not apply to you like change of name or an old address if this is your first time registering.
  • Do I need an ID to vote?
    Only in certain circumstances: 1. First Time Voter–If you are a first time voter who registered through the mail. 2. Didn’t Return Census Form–If you did not return your annual census form collected by every town and city in Massachusetts
  • What kind of ID is accepted in MA?
    1. Photo ID is not required. ID must include your name and the address at which you are registered to vote. 2. Valid Photo Identification (Drivers License, State ID issued for Non-Drivers, Student ID, Passport) 3. Utility Bill (gas, electric, cable, oil, water — no cell phone bills). 4. Recent Bank Statement 5. Government document like a paycheck stub.
  • When are the 2024 Elections / Voter Registration Deadlines
    September 3, 2024 – State Primaries District: Statewide Offices on Ballot: U.S. Senator U.S. Representative Governor’s Councillor State Senator State Representative Register of Deeds Clerk of Courts County Commissioner (certain counties only) Voter Registration Deadline: August 24, 2024 Vote by Mail Application Deadline: August 26, 2024 Polling Hours: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. November 5, 2024 – State Election District: Statewide Offices on Ballot: Electors of President and Vice President U.S. Senator U.S. Representative Governor’s Councillor State Senator State Representative Register of Deeds Clerk of Courts County Commissioner (certain counties only) Additional local offices (certain cities & towns) Voter Registration Deadline: October 26, 2024 Vote by Mail Application Deadline: October 29, 2024 Polling Hours: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • What is an 'inactive voter'
    Under state law, every city and town is required to communicate with each household and compile an annual street list – also known as a city or town census. Most cities and towns choose to communicate with residents by mail. If a voter fails to respond to the annual street list, they will be placed on the inactive voters list and their local election official will send out a confirmation notice, which the voter is asked to sign and return. The confirmation notice is meant to confirm that the voter continues to reside at the address at which he or she is registered, or if the voter has moved, update the address on file. Voters who fail to return confirmation notices will remain on the inactive voters list. If you are an inactive voter, it will be indicated on the list of voters when you check-in at your polling place. Before you may vote, you will be required to complete an affirmation of current and continuous residence. On this form, you must affirm that you continue to reside at the address at which you are registered, have moved within the same town, or have moved from one municipality to another Massachusetts municipality within six months of a state election. You will also be asked to present identification which shows your name and the address at which you are registered to vote. It is not required that you present photo identification. Acceptable forms of identification include: a driver's license, state-issued ID card, recent utility bill, rent receipt, lease, a copy of a voter registration affidavit, or any other printed identification which contains your name and address. As soon as you have completed the affirmation of current and continuous residence, you will be restored to the active voters list and be allowed to cast your vote.
  • Where do I vote?
    Enter in your address here to see your voting location.
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