Voting Tips to Prepare for Election Day

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Your vote matters. Voting in the upcoming election is not only important because you decide the next leader of our country, but you also have the power to create and modify laws in our state and city. At IBA it is our mission to improve our communities through high-quality programs and this starts with the individual. Your vote gives a voice to our community; by exercising your right to vote you are putting our mission into action, you are making the best decisions for you, your family, and our community.

Together, we can make a difference within the streets of our neighborhood, our city, our state, and our country. So we’ve prepared a list of “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs), so when you head to the polls on Tuesday November 8th, you will feel confident making decisions that will build a stronger community – locally and nationwide.

How do I know if I am eligible to vote?
If you are a U.S. Citizen who is 18+ years old by the day of the election (November 8th), then you are eligible to vote. In Massachusetts, as soon as you move to an address within the state, then you are eligible to vote here as a resident of Massachusetts – there is no wait period for how long you must live here in order to register to vote here.

When is the registration deadline to vote in Massachusetts?
Today! October 19th. You can register online if you have a valid Massachusetts ID at home, in person, or by mail up until today. If you do not have valid ID and/or need help with registration, our Resident Services Community Building Coordinator, Stephanie Peña, is happy to help you. Just come to our Resident Services building at 100 W Dedham Street in the South End and Stephanie can walk you through filling out the form -it takes less than 5 minutes! If you’re not sure if you have already registered, you can double check here.

What does it mean to register to a political party?
Registering for a particular political party often means that you most align with that party’s point of view on how to address government and political issues. Massachusetts recognizes 4 political parties (you can click on each party to read about their individual values): (1) Democratic, (2) Republican, (3) Green Rainbow, and (4) United Independent Party. The United Independent Party is different than choosing not to register to a political party. If you choose to register without a party affiliation then you want to check the box marked “No Party (unenrolled).”

In some states, not registering for a political party means you are not allowed to vote in the primary and only in the “main” general election; however, in Massachusetts you do not have to register for a political party to vote in the primary election. If you are an “unenrolled” voter in MA during a primary election, then upon arriving at your designated polling station, you will declare a party at the check in table. You will be given a ballot for the party you request; following this, you will automatically be revert to “No Party (unenrolled)” status for future elections.

A member of our HiSet program asks questions during the Resident Services Voter Workshop.

A member of our HiSet program asks questions during our Voter Workshop.

How do I know where to go to vote?
When you receive your voter registration confirmation it will contain the address for your designated Polling Location. Each address is assigned a Ward and Precinct number. Make sure on election day that you remember your Ward and Precinct number as many Polling Locations house more than one precinct and you will need to go to the correct check-in-table for your precinct in order to vote.

For residents of our Villa Victoria neighborhood, many of you can come to IBA’s Youth Development space to vote on November 8th. We’re located at 100 West Dedham St. Boston, MA. You can also stop by our Resident Services offices at the same address on October 24th at 2 p.m. for our “walking club” meeting that will be traveling together to an early voting station. If neither of these days or times works for you, then you can also contact Stephanie and she can help you with filling out and mailing your ballot early at a time that is most convenient for you.

Who are the candidates for President and Vice President on the ballot?
There are 4 candidates – from 4 nationally recognized political parties – running for President and each has a Vice Presidential running mate.

  1. Democratic Party: Hillary Clinton & Tim Kaine.
    To learn more about Hillary Clinton’s stance on key issues, click here. To learn more about Tim Kaine’s stance on key issues, click here.
  2. Republican Party: Donald J. Trump & Michael R. Pence
    To learn more about Donald Trump’s stance on key issues, click here. To learn more about Michael Pence’s stance on key issues, click here.
  3. Libertarian Party: Gary Johnson & Bill Weld
    To learn more about Gary Johnson’s stance on key issues, click here. To learn more about Bill Weld’s stance on key issues, click here.
  4. Green Party: Jill Stein & Ajamu Baraka
    To learn more about Jill Stein’s stance on key issues, click here. To learn more about Ajamu Baraka’s stance on key issues, click here.

How is the role of the Vice President different than the role of the President?
According to Scholastic News, the job of the Vice President (VP), as defined by the U.S. Constitution, assigns the VP to act as presiding officer of the Senate; however, other than this, the VP’s job is not much different than the President’s. The VP serves as the ‘right hand man’ (or woman) to the President whose job description includes: Chief Executive, Commander in Chief, Foreign Policy Director, and Legislative Leader. The VP must also always be prepared at any minute to become President or Acting President if anything happens to the President.

Who are the local candidates for my neighborhood?
You can click here to search your address and find out who is running for local election in your neighborhood and where they stand on key issues.

What are the four ballot questions and what does my “yes” or “no” vote mean?
The 4 ballot questions affect Massachusetts only and deal with the following topics’:

  1. 1. Another slot license:
    A Vote Yes Means: This would allow the state Gaming Commision to give a license to one additional slot-machine gaming establishment in a location that meets certain conditions that are specified by law.
    A Vote No Means: There would be no changes made to current gaming laws.
  2. Additional charter schools:
    A Vote Yes Means: This would allow expanded enrollments in existing charter schools (but this number cannot exceed one percent of the statewide public school enrollment) or up to 12 approvals per year of new charter schools.
    A Vote No Means: There would be no changes in current laws related to charter schools.
  3.  Preventing animal cruelty:
    A Vote Yes Means: This would forbid the confinement of farm animals (such as pigs, calves, and hens) that would prevent them from lying down, standing up, fully extending their limbs or turning around freely.
    A Vote No Means: There would be no changes in current laws related to current laws relative to the keeping of farm animals
  4. Legalization and taxation of marijuana:
    A Vote Yes Means: This would legalize the recreational use of marijuana; allowing people 21 and older to grow, possess, use and transfer marijuana and products containing marijuana concentrate in limited amounts. It would also provide the regulation and taxation of commercial sale of marijuana and marijuana products.
    A Vote No Means: This would make no change to current laws related to marijuana use. (Note: Medical marijuana use is legal in Massachusetts)

For more detailed information on how your vote affects the laws associated with these four ballot questions, click here.

I’ve seen people campaigning for me to “Vote Yes for Better Boston,” what does this mean?
The “Vote Yes for a Better Boston” campaign is for the fifth ballot question – a local Boston ballot question that deals with the Community Preservation Act. Voting yes for this question means there will be more money to support affordable housing communities, historic preservation, and open space initiatives in the Boston area. Mayor Marty Walsh supports the Community Preservation Act, and so do we here at IBA. Make sure to turn over your ballot so you do not miss this final important question.

Residents of our Villa Victoria neighborhood attended a Voter's workshop to prepare for election day.

Residents of our Villa Victoria neighborhood attended a Voter’s workshop to prepare for election day.

Every vote means something, and making informed decisions about the future of our community and our nation is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for younger generations. We hope this article was informative and you feel equipped to vote in the election this November.

If you still have questions about anything – whether it be about needing more information on the candidates and issues on the ballot or about the logistics of voting – contact Stephanie Peña with our Resident Services program by email at or by phone at (617) 535-1791. We would be happy to give you the answers you’re looking for or help you find them if we don’t know the answers ourselves. Make sure to vote by or on Tuesday November 8th, and remember, every vote makes a difference.


‘ Source: WCVB

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  1. April 3, 2018 at 8:09 pm — Reply

    I’ve always been amazed at how much time, effort, and energy goes into running for a political office. It seems like you’d want to have a professional who knows how to monitor and poll people. You make a great point about how important making informed decisions about the community and nation is.

  2. October 2, 2017 at 9:26 pm — Reply

    These are some really good points and I particularly like that you explain what it means to register to a political party. However, if you do decide to register for a party then you need to make sure you put a lot of thought into the decision. You shouldn’t just choose what your parents always taught you, but you need to take your own beliefs into consideration as well.

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