Why and How to Register to Vote

Millennials are increasingly being recognized as the “screwed generation.” We find ourselves beset by a vast number of forces and problems beyond our control – issues that we will have to reckon with well into our adult lives. A massive proportion of our generation is saddled with crushing student debt. The job search is a bleak, tiresome, and often fruitless affair. Those lucky enough to earn employment will find themselves stuck with stagnant wages.

And those are just the economic considerations. Our country is more politically polarized than ever before, with all hope of bipartisan change driven away long ago, leaving us with cynicism and despair. We’re involved in a number of increasingly violent, horrific conflicts, with no end in sight. Climates are changing in drastic ways, resulting in vicious storms as well as more subtle ecological disasters, like the water contamination in Flint, Michigan. Hatred, not hope, is what wins elections nowadays.

It is in this context that many of us have our first opportunity to vote in a national election that will help decide the future of this country. It is because of these looming horrors that all of us are obligated – morally, civically – to cast ballots in the upcoming elections. Regardless of who we vote for, it is essential that we assert ourselves as the inheritors of this country and a powerful political force.


This is what has inspired the Amherst United Left to hold a nonpartisan voter registration drive over the coming days, and is also the motivation behind this article, which seeks to guide unregistered students through the process of registering to vote right here in Massachusetts. Make sure to do this soon, as the registration deadline for the primaries is Wednesday, February 10!

The first step is to determine whether or not you have a valid Massachusetts photo ID. This could be in the form of a driver’s license, a learner’s permit, or a non-driver’s ID. If you have this, all you have to do is fill out this online form and bring your ID to the polls on March 1.

If you don’t have Massachusetts ID, the process will be a little more difficult. You can either fill out the above form online to download and print at the end of the process, or print out a blank copy and fill it in by hand. Once you have the printed application, either mail it in or deliver it to town hall yourself. With the February 10th deadline fast approaching, taking it to Amherst’s town hall is the best way to ensure you are registered for the primaries. Either way, you’ll need to provide proof of residence and a copy of your legal photo ID (this could be a driver’s license or state ID from another state, or a US passport, for example).

Proof of residence could be any legal or bank document that has your name and dorm address on it, as well as a host of other options. However, chances are you won’t have a document with your dorm address on it, but rather your school mailing address. In that case, you’ll have to ask the school to send you a letter of certification. Make sure to specify that you’ll need your dorm address on this document in order to register to vote.

After you’ve sent or turned in the right documents, you should get a voter registration card, which you should bring along with your photo ID to the primary polls on March 1. This is more than just an expression of political beliefs, it’s a fundamental part of our democratic system and integral to improving the future of our country and the world we live in.