Beware the Ides of October: Registering to Vote in Massachusetts

In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be writing a bit about the November 4th election as it relates to Bostonians.  I’ll cover a new ballot question each week and provide some mind-numbing state resources.  If you open your textbook, we’ll begin on page 292 with Massachusetts voter registration.

Those of you who will be 18 or older on election day and would like to vote, need to be registered.  As of this posting, you have 7 days to mail in your voter registration form; this mail-in voter registration form must be postmarked by October 15, 2008 — 20 days prior to the election, by law.

If you want to register to vote without leaving your couch, you need to complete an online form to actually get your voter registration form.  It’s kind of like a meta form, I guess.  It’s available here:  You can also show your age and request a voter registration form by phone (617-727-2828 or 1-800-462-VOTE).

Chapter Summary: Registering to Vote in MA

  1. Request a voter registration form (Now)
  2. Complete the voter registration form
  3. Mail or drop-off your voter registration form to your local city/town hall; addresses are listed here. (By Wednesday, October 15)

If you have any questions about this, for the love of God, don’t ask me.  We have a Secretary of the Commonwealth who gets paid to wade through this stuff.  His name is William Francis Galvin and he’s got quite the website:

3 Comments so far

  1. toonie on October 10th, 2008 @ 12:33 pm

    I have to ask: Should everyone register to vote? I know people are supposed to "rock the vote", "vote or die" or what have you, I know you shouldn’t complain about anything in politics if you didn’t vote (because voting is the ONLY way way express yourself politically) that voting is your voice, your right, that people died defending that right, but honestly, fuck all that. What if you don’t like either candidate? What if you think American politics is bullshit and you don’t want to take part in it (didn’t an election get stolen a few years ago?)? It seems like, similar to the way that you can protest a company by not buying its products, most of America does not believe that voting is worth it. They are too lazy or apathetic or fed up, and they do not think it is worth the effort or the chance that it will make positive change. But instead of taking a hint, people just continue to urge the vote. Vote, vote vote.
    How about just get involved. Pushing someone with no interest or trust in politics is just asking someone to cast a disinterested vote. I also don’t want people who don’t know/care about candidates to cast an uninformed vote. Finally, soldiers dying for your right to vote is a silly argument. They also died for the 2nd amendment, does that mean if you don’t take advantage of that right and buy a gun you are dishonoring them?
    Nothing personal to Michael and Lauren, this is just something I’ve been thinking about lately. Also I myself am actually voting this election. Just thought this needed to be said.

  2. Michael Dupuis Jr. (michaeldupuisjr) on October 11th, 2008 @ 2:53 am

    Thanks for the comments Toonie.

    In many respects, I completely agree with you. In response to your question — “should everyone register to vote” — I’m going to say no. While I think that a healthy, secure nation requires a baseline of participation (especially from the "middle class") I don’t believe that America is in danger of falling below this point; thus, I don’t think that all Americans of voting age should vote, only those who see government as legitimate in its power.

    If you don’t believe that the government is legitimate, don’t vote (and don’t pay your taxes, either by the way).

    However, if you do believe that the Constitution, our legislatures, our executives, and our judiciaries are legitimate authorities, and you would like to engage in the public discourse – whatever that might be — then you must vote (though, not necessarily for Barack Obama or John McCain). Here’s why:

    The act of voting is not simply a moment of political judgment by the citizen; it is also an act in which the citizen reaffirms his or her belief in the legitimacy of the government. On Election Day, government creates a mechanism for its own continuance (voting), and the peoples’ votes, no matter how conservative or liberal they may be, implicitly affirm the legitimacy of the government structure.

    In this way, voting truly is one’s "civic duty": the engagement with the structure of power maintains a civic or public sphere, separate from the individual’s own private realm of being.

    This doesn’t mean that thoughtful, engaged citizens must vote Democratic or Republican. They don’t even need to vote for a third-party candidate if none appeal to them. The content of the vote is not important, it is the act itself which holds meaning. Step into the ballot box, review your options, and submit a blank form if you don’t have an answer. Write-in a candidate if that is what you believe. Just engage with civic society.

    My point at issue with Toonie is as follows: he writes, "It seems like, similar to the way that you can protest a company by not buying its products, most of America does not believe that voting is worth it. They are too lazy or apathetic or fed up, and they do not think it is worth the effort or the chance that it will make positive change."

    The individual who is fed up or apathetic with government should still vote, but only for what they believe in (a write-in candidate, or “yes” or “no” on a state referendum). If the person truly is protesting the government, as they would a commercial product, then they shouldn’t vote — but they shouldn’t pay taxes either, and they shouldn’t take public transportation or receive public benefits in any way.

    You can’t protest the civic/public/government sphere in one instance, and then accept it in another, which is what many non-voters are often times doing.

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