Skip to main content


5 Things That Are Harder Than Registering To Vote

Register in Massachusetts OR Vote Absentee in Your Home State

In order to participate in any election, you must register to vote.  Typically you register in the town in which you live which makes you eligible to vote in city, county, state and federal elections, but sometimes you are away at school or unable to vote at home due to travel, medical issues or other challenges.  Don't fret!  There are two ways you can still participate:

Register to Vote in Massachusetts  


You can register to vote with a school address and social security number.  You will need to fill our a form and mail it in to complete the process.  The library has these forms available, or you can fill it out online, print it, and mail it in. Access the online form here and click "I do not have an RMV ID" to access the form. It will need to be printed and mailed in.

You can also switch your residency from your hometown to where you currently reside in Massachusetts.  This requires a trip to the Registry of Motor Vehicles to obtain a Massachusetts driver's license or state ID card, and while you are there you can register to vote.  Be sure to check the requirements before you go - you may need to bring supporting documentation with you.  Changing your residency may also affect things like tax rates and jury duty (courts pull information from tax filings, voter registration rates, and RMV records to generate notice for possible jurors), so keep that in mind if you decide to change residency.

If you choose to go this route, you will be mailed a new voter card for Massachusetts after you register and assigned a specific polling place within your district.  Don't forget to get your sticker on Election Day!

Vote via Absentee 

If you do not want to change your residency to Massachusetts, you can apply for an absentee ballot in your home district.  Applications are due well in advance of Election Day.  Some states have an e-ballot option for absentee but many rely on mailed in forms, so it's recommended you apply as soon as you get to campus. Once you have successfully applied, you will be eligible to vote via a paper ballot that comes to you in the mail or an online portal, depending on where your residency is.  Each state and territory has different rules and deadlines - that's over 50 sets of rules!

Click on your home state or territory to the left to find out how to register.  If you are already registered and want to apply for absentee status, click here:

Voting Eligibility

To register to vote in the United States you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Meet your state's residency requirements
  • Be 18 years old. Your state may allow you to register if you will be 18 before the general election.
  • Students attending college in Massachusetts may register in this state with their school address by filling in a form and mailing it in.  Forms available at the library or online. 
  • If you'd prefer to vote absentee or by mail in your home state and not register in Massachusetts, find out more about that process here.


Additional Resources

It can be difficult to separate fact from hype so here are some resources that can help you navigate the tricky landscape of political rhetoric. - nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.

Fact Checker from the Washington Post -  The mission is to assess the statements of political figures regarding issues of great importance, be they national, international or local. With the approaching election, many of statements made in the heat of the presidential contest will be scrutinized as will other difficult issues.

Project Vote Smart - Vote Smart's mission is to provide free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials to ALL Americans.

PolitiFact - PolitiFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times and its partners to help you find the truth in politics.  Every day, reporters and researchers from PolitiFact and its partner news organization examine statements by members of Congress, state legislators, governors, mayors, the president, cabinet secretaries, lobbyists, people who testify before Congress and anyone else who speaks up in American politics. PolitiFact also ranks consistency of message.

Congressional Report Card - Since 1995, our non-partisan Report Cards have provided information on the most important, and often under-reported, part of each United States Congress member's job: making "good" laws. Report Cards popular now.