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A how-to guide for voter registration

With the whole country focused on the primary elections in New Hampshire on Tuesday, it can be easy to forget that the Massachusetts primary are less than a month away on March 1.

In order to fulfill your civic duty on that day, you need to be registered by Wednesday, Feb. 10. We asked student Haley Havens, S’19, who is a member of Northeastern’s Democracy Matters chapter, to compile all the pertinent information you need to know in order to register.

Democracy Matters is a non-partisan, national student organization founded in 2001 that advocates for campaign finance reform and bringing more people into the democratic process The organization empowers student activists to connect pro-democracy reforms to issues such as the environment, civil rights, education, healthcare, and foreign policy.

Voting in Massachusetts

In order to register to vote in next month’s primaries, you must be:

– 18 years old before March 1, 2016
– A citizen of the United States
– Currently living in Massachusetts

If you have a Massachusetts driver’s license, you can register to vote in-state. And once you register to vote in the presidential primary, you do not have to register again to vote in the general election in November.

Students who are not originally from Massachusetts can register to vote in the Commonwealth if they consider their address here their residence. But you must choose between voting in Massachusetts or your home state. You can not be registered to vote in both.

Be advised that Massachusetts holds semi-closed primaries, which means that you must register with a specific political party in order to vote. Those parties include Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green-Rainbow, and United Independent. If you register as a Democrat, you can only participate in the Democratic primary; if you register as a Republican, you can only participate in the Republican primary. Only Independent voters are allowed to choose which primary to vote in.

Voting from afar

If you are unable to travel back to your hometown, whether it is on the other side of Massachusetts or in another state, you can still vote via absentee ballot, which is available here.

If you are voting in a different state, make sure to visit your local community’s website or your home state’s election website for registration deadlines, voting days, and voting rules.

Campus events

Voter registration will be available at a special event on Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. in East Village, where representatives from the city of Boston’s Election Commission will be on hand to discuss their work and answer questions. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the 2012 presidential election only 38 percent of eligible voters between 18 and 24 years old cast ballots.

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