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How Do I Register to Vote in the 2018 Midterm Elections?

Deadlines for November 6 election: October 17 for Massachusetts, varies for other states

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The 2018 midterm congressional and various state elections are just five weeks away and with control of the US House of Representatives (and possibly the US Senate) very much up for grabs, the stakes have never been higher. Democrats hope to take back the House (the Senate may be a longer shot), while Republicans are fighting to maintain their majority in both. Experts predict that voter turnout will be high, including among young voters, who are expected to head to the polls motivated by their distaste of President Trump: 60 percent of young voters age 18 to 29 disapprove of how Trump is handling his job as president, the highest disapproval rate of any age group, according to a NBC/GenForward survey.

The election is Tuesday, November 6, and the deadline to register to vote in Massachusetts is October 17 (deadlines vary from state to state). BU has been holding voter registration drives around campus, including one at this fall’s Splash event and another earlier this week at the College of General Studies, to help students sign up to vote either in Massachusetts or by absentee ballot, as well as to answer questions.

And in an effort to make it easier for students to register to vote and file absentee ballots, BU has paired up with TurboVote, an online platform that keeps track of all 50 states’ rules for voter registration, absentee ballots, and voting by mail.

“Registering to vote is only one way to be nimble in this time of political discourse and activism,” Kenneth Elmore (Wheelock’87), associate provost and dean of students, wrote in a recent letter to students. He urged them to also attend lectures, rallies, and discussions to help them “reflect on the campus, national, and global political climates.”

“Being ‘in the know’ when it comes to making a difference and changing the world requires nimbleness,” he said. “Developing your knowledge and skills to make that difference requires plenty of motivation and lots of intellectual work.”

BU Today has put together a guide to help answer your questions about  how to register, how to change your voter registration to Massachusetts, how to obtain an absentee ballot, and more:

Who can vote?

American citizens who are 18 years old on or before Election Day, Tuesday, November 6.

When is the deadline to register to vote?

The deadline to register to vote in Massachusetts is Wednesday, October 17. This means that your registration form must be postmarked that day at the latest or it will not be valid for the 2018 November election.

The deadline for registering in other states varies. Find a list here and select your state from the drop-down bar.

How can I register to vote?

No two states run their elections the same way, so you should contact your local election office to figure out next steps. TurboVote offers clear, easy steps for everything you need to do, including checking to see if you are already registered. It then gives you the option of registering online or on paper (if you choose paper, you have to mail the form in).

If you’re old school and prefer to register in person, you can go to any registration location, like your town or city hall, and complete an affidavit of registration. You will be asked for information such as your name, residence, and date of birth. (Remember that Allston and Brighton are neighborhoods of Boston.) You can also sign up at the Registry of Motor Vehicles when applying for or renewing your driver’s license.

You may be asked to show identification, so be sure to bring a driver’s license, a state-issued ID card, a recent utility bill, or a rent receipt. Acceptable identification must include your name and your address in the city or town you are registering to vote in.

If you are registered to vote in Massachusetts, enter your address here to find out where you can vote on Election Day. BU students living on campus will most likely vote in the student lounge at 111 Cummington Mall.

How do I use an absentee ballot to vote?

As long as you’re already a registered voter, you can obtain an absentee ballot. In states that offer online voter registration, TurboVote provides info on eligibility requirements, like the type of ID needed to complete your state’s forms. TurboVote can also help students register using a paper form by gathering the info needed to fill out the form and then sending a digital or paper copy.

No matter the method, we urge you—just vote.

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Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

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