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Election and Voting Guide

Voting in U.S. Elections

You can vote in United States elections if you:

Who cannot vote?

  • Non-citizens, including permanent legal residents
  • Some people with felony convictions. Rules vary by state.
  • Some people who are mentally incapacitated. Rules vary by state.
  • For president in the general election: U.S. citizens residing in U.S. territories

Massachusetts residents can find more information about MA eligibility and restrictions at the Secretary's Elections and Voting page. Other U.S. residents can check with their state or local election office.

Registering to Vote

To vote, you must be registered. You do not need to affiliate yourself with a political party, though party affiliation may affect whether you can vote in primary elections

  • Register online: Massachusetts allows online registration for residents. You must have a valid Massachusetts Driver's License or State ID to register online. 
  • Register by mail or in-person: visit the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth webpage
  • Register outside of Massachusetts:
    • Studentvote.org is part of the Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project, a nonpartisan effort to help register young people and get them to the polls on Election Day. This site allows you to check your registration status, register, request an absentee ballot, and find your polling place.
    • Vote.org aims to use technology to simplify political engagement, increase voter turnout, and strengthen American democracy. This site allows you to check your registration status, register, request an absentee ballot, and find your polling place.
  • Check your registration status.

Students attending college may choose to register at their college address or at their home address. You must vote in the area where you are registered, or you must obtain an absentee or a vote-by-mail ballot. 

Eligible Mount Holyoke students may register as Massachusetts voters using the information above. If you are currently registered in another location, you will be removed from the voter list there and added to the South Hadley voter list. 

Pay attention to registration deadlines. For example, in Massachusetts, you must be registered twenty (20) days before a scheduled election.

How to Vote

To vote, you must be registered and you must cast your vote in a designated polling place or mail your ballot by certain deadlines. 

Voting in person: When you vote in person, be prepared to meet poll workers and give them your name, address, and signature. Poll workers will provide you with voting instructions and the supplies you need, like pens and pencils.

In MA you will not be asked for ID unless:

  • You are voting for the first time in Massachusetts in a federal election
  • You are an inactive voter
  • You are casting an provisional or challenged ballot (unusual)
  • Poll workers have a reasonable suspicion that leads them to ask for ID (unusual)

States have different voter ID requirements. If you are voting in person, check first with your state or local election office and bring the required documentation with you.

Your polling place will usually be close to the address where you are registered. If voting in-person in Massachusetts, the Elections and Voting webpage will direct you to your polling place. To find your polling place in other states, check with your state or local election office.

Voting by mail: As of July 2020, Massachusetts residents are entitled to vote by mail. To apply for a mail-in ballot in MA, visit the Commonwealth's webpage. If you are registered and voting in another state, check your state or local election office for specific vote-by-mail rules.

Voting by absentee ballot: You are entitled to obtain and mail an absentee ballot if you're unable to vote from your registered address. Due to COVID-19, many states are making absentee ballot voting easier. For example, in Massachusetts all registered voters may vote by mail in 2020, without needing to meet the State's regular absentee voting requirements

If you are registered and voting in another state, check your state or local election office for specific absentee voting rules.

MHC Accessibility Barriers Form