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Recent rulings that Texas' voting laws discriminate put pressure on the state, but the road ahead is long
04/24/17 |
Publication Date: 
Monday, April 24, 2017 - 01:00

Lawmakers are trying to pass a bill to address the discriminatory issues found with the voter ID law. But Democrats say it falls short of meeting the standards that a district court set last year.

Plaintiffs want District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi to consider throwing out the law after the legislative session and returning the state to the federal government's "pre-clearance" list.

But even if that happened, the Texas attorney general's office would almost certainly challenge the decision in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. ...

The parties in the [redistricting] case are set to meet in San Antonio on Thursday. The three-judge panel will hear updates on whether a trial is needed and what a timeline for the rest of the case might look like.

But the panel has moved slowly and methodically throughout the case for over six years. It is unlikely to grant the plaintiffs' requests — for new congressional maps for the 2018 elections and federal oversight — before tackling other remaining issues, such as whether the 2013 interim maps were also discriminatory.

And even if the court sided with the plaintiffs in a trial and struck down the maps, Texas could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court — dragging out the case even longer.

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Massachusetts Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

Voter Registration Deadline: Wednesday, October 19

For more information, visit the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s website.

Early Voting:

Voters can vote early beginning on Monday, October 24th through Friday, November 4th. Every city and town in Massachusetts will have a designated early voting site whose location will be published by the town or city registrar one week before early voting begins. Voters can vote early at the designated location from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Specific city or town information is available at

Election Day:

Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

How to Find Your Polling Place: Visit the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s polling place locator web page. 


Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.

Registration Deadlines: The deadline to register to vote for this year’s General Election is Wednesday, October 19th.

How to Check Your Registration: Use Massachusetts Registrant Search website or call 1-866-462-VOTE.

Registration Eligibility: In order to be eligible to register in Massachusetts, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States;
  • Reside in Massachusetts; and
  • Not be currently incarcerated for a felony conviction;

Voters must be eighteen years of age or older to vote. However, beginning August 1, 2017, sixteen and seventeen-year-olds can preregister in person, by mail, or online using the same form as other registrants. Preregistered people will become automatically eligible to vote at age eighteen.

There is no duration of residence requirement in Massachusetts; you may register the first day that you move to the state.

How to Register: Massachusetts residents may register in person, by mail, or online.


In order to register to vote online, you must have a signature on file with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. If you have a Massachusetts driver’s license or state ID card, your signature is on file. Applicants can apply to register on the Secretary of State’s website.

By Mail

In order to register by mail, you must obtain a mail-in registration form by:

  • Downloading a mail-in form from the Secretary of State’s website
  • Requesting a form by contacting the Elections and Voting Division in the Secretary of State’s office (1-800-462-8683).

In Person

You may register to vote in person in any of the following ways:

  • When applying for or renewing your driver’s license or State Identification Card;
  • At your local town clerk’s office
  • At the Elections Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office

Identification Required for Registration

Voters may register by mail without identification, but they must provide a form of identification when they vote at the polls on Election Day.

If You Want to Vote Early

The early voting period will begin on Monday, October 24th and end on Friday, November 4th. At minimum, every city and town in Massachusetts will have at least one designated early voting site open during business hours. Cities and towns may, in their discretion, allow for expanded hours and locations. Each city and town will publish the location(s) and hour(s) at least one week before early voting begins. Specific city or town information is available at

If You Want to Vote Absentee

A voter may cast an absentee ballot if he or she:

  • Will be absent from their city or town on Election Day;
  • Has a physical disability that prevents a trip to the polling place;
  • Has a religious belief that prevents a trip to the polling place;
  • Is a registered Massachusetts voter living outside the county;

Rules and Deadlines:

  • An absentee ballot application must be turned in no later than November 7, 2016.

An absentee ballot must be received by the voter’s local election official no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot You may be asked to provide identification if you are a first time voter, on the inactive list, or challenged by a poll worker. You do not need a photo ID. 

Valid forms of ID must include your name and the address at which you are registered to vote.  Valid forms of ID include:

  • Valid Massachusetts driver's license or non-driver ID card;
  • Valid state-issued ID;
  • Valid U.S. passport;
  • Valid U.S. military ID card containing a photo
  • Recent utility bill or rent receipt
  • Copy of voter registration affidavit
  • Any other printed identification which contains the voter’s name and address where they are registered to vote

VoteRiders has created Massachusetts voter ID info cards in English and in Spanish.

Voters should notify their local election office of any change of address.  This may be done in person at the local election office or by mail.  If the voter has not updated his/her address, he/she will be able to cast a provisional ballot at the polling place associated with their old address for up to six months.

Military and other overseas citizens may use the standard procedure for absentee voting by mail, but there are also special provisions for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and merchant marine, commissioned corps of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with family members of all these groups, and other citizens who reside outside the United States (together these groups are called UOCAVA voters).

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot.  Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's webpage.

The spouse, roommate, parent, in-laws, brother, sister, son, daughter, stepparent, stepchild, half-sister, half-brother, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, grandparent or grandchild may request that a ballot be sent to an overseas or military voter using this form.

Receiving an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters may receive their blank absentee ballots by U.S. Mail or electronic transmission.  To request election transmission of the blank ballot, UOCAVA voters must mark the appropriate box and provide an email address on the State of Massachusetts “UOCAVA Application for Absentee Ballot” or on the FPCA webpage. Ballots must be returned via U.S. Mail, commercial carrier, or by hand delivery.

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a back-up ballot that can be used by UOCAVA voters.  You can use this FWAB whether you are located inside or outside the United States (including APO and FPO addresses), provided that you are away from your voting residence for service-related activities.  You must apply for a regular ballot early enough for your local election officials to receive the request at least 5 days before the election.  If you do not receive your regular ballot in time, you may use the FWAB.  Your FWAB must be received by your local voting officials in Massachusetts no later than noon on Election Day.  For specific instructions, visit the FVAP's Massachusetts-specific FWAB page

A person who has been convicted of a felony may vote unless they are currently incarcerated. 


Top Issues to Field

For more information for voters with disabilities, find a National Disability Rights Network partner in your area.

For more information for student voters, visit the Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the voting rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

More Info On Student Voting

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Election Information for your state