How to vote in Massachusetts

 Graphic by Jieyu Feng ’22

Graphic by Jieyu Feng ’22

BY ALLYSON HUNTOON ’19

Early voting has been underway in Massachusetts since Oct. 22, and in under a week, voters will have the opportunity to go to the polls on Election Day. On the ballot in Massachusetts, there are candidates for both state and federal offices as well as three statewide ballot questions.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. The polling place for Mount Holyoke community members registered to vote in South Hadley is South Hadley High School, located at 153 Newton Street, South Hadley and the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Early voting is available at the South Hadley Town Hall, located at 116 Main Street, Room 108, through Nov. 2 and the Town Hall is open for early voting and absentee ballot applications Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. All Massachusetts voters can vote early, and those who will be unavailable to vote on Election Day due to absence from their district, disability or religious belief may apply for an absentee ballot. The town must receive all absentee ballots by the time the polls close on Election Day.

The Mount Holyoke College Democrats will be providing rides to the polls on Election Day for students registered in or around South Hadley who need a ride. Lily James ’21 (james23l@mtholyoke.edu) and Maggie Micklo ’21 (mickl22m@ mtholyoke.edu) can be contacted for more details. South Hadley High School is two miles from campus via Route 116 and can also be reached by bus on the R29 PVTA route.

Voters can check to see if they are registered on the Massachusetts Secretary of State website, but the registration deadline for the Nov. 6 midterm election has already passed.

The three questions listed on the ballot include Question 1: Nurse-Patient Assignment Limits Initiative (2018), Question 2: Advisory Commission for Amendments to the U.S. Constitution Regarding Corporate Personhood and Political Spending Initiative (2018) and Question 3: Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Veto Referendum (2018).

According to the Massachusetts Secretary of State website, for Question 1, “a yes vote would limit the number of patients that could be assigned to one registered nurse in hospitals and certain other health care facilities. A no vote would make no change in current laws relative to patient-to-nurse limits.”

For Question 2, “a yes vote would create a citizens commission to advance an amendment to the United States Constitution to limit the influence of money in elections and establish that corporations do not have the same rights as human beings. A no vote would not create this commission.”

For Question 3, “a yes vote would keep in place the current law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in places of public accommodation. A no vote would repeal this provision of the public accommodation law.”

The full text of each question, as well as arguments for and against the proposals, are available on the Massachusetts Secretary of State website. Summaries are available at http://www. sec.state.ma.us/ele/ele18/ballot_questions_18/ballot_questions18.htm.

Voters are granted certain protections in the election process. The Massachusetts Voters’ Bill of Rights states, among other declarations, that “you have the right to receive up to two (2) replacement ballots if you make a mistake and spoil your ballot,” and “you have the right to vote if you are disabled. The polling place must be accessible, and there must be an accessible voting booth.” In addition, “you have the right to vote if you cannot read or write or cannot read or write English.”

The Voters’ Bill of Rights also addresses the topic of voter identification. “You have the right to vote but must show identification if: you are a first-time voter who registered to vote by mail and did not submit identification with the voter registration form; or your name is on the inactive voter list; or your vote is being challenged; or if requested by a poll worker.”

If prompted, voters can show several acceptable forms of identification, including a Massachusetts driver’s license, a copy of a voter registration acknowledgement, such as a receipt, or other printed documentation containing the voter’s name and address.

Voters also “have the right to vote at [their] polling place[s] any time between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. for state and federal elections — hours may vary for local elections.” Voters who are still in line at their polling places when polls close still have the right to vote. Parents also have the right to have their children accompany them into the voting booth.

The full list of voters’ rights is also available on the Massachusetts Secretary of State website.

Below are the candidates seeking reelection on the MA ballot this November.


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