Presidential primary now Feb. 5 in Mass.

December 14, 2007
By

JOHN RUCH

Jan. 16 is the deadline for registering to vote in the 2008 presidential primary election. The date of the election was recently changed to Feb. 5.

Primary elections are held nationwide every four years to choose each political party’s nominee for president and vice president. This year’s nominees will face off in the final election on Nov. 4, 2008. The winners will replace current President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Until this year, Massachusetts was one of many states that held its presidential primary in March as part of the so-called Super Tuesday burst of elections. But various states have shifted around this year’s primary elections in the hopes of becoming more influential in choosing the nominees. Last month, the Massachusetts legislature decided our state should get in on the fun and moved the primary date up a month.

If you are registered as an independent, or “unenrolled,” voter, you can still vote in the Massachusetts primary. You can vote on the ballot of any one political party of your choice. Voting in the primary does not turn the voter into a party member.

If you belong to a political party but want to vote on another party’s ballot, you have to change your party affiliation by the Jan. 16 deadline. That basically means re-registering.

Avi Green, executive director of the voting rights group MassVOTE, noted that could be a particular problem in Jamaica Plain. JP has relatively high numbers of third-party voters who might want to vote in a major-party primary—for example, Green-Rainbow members who would prefer to vote in the Democratic Party primary.

“I’m concerned that people are going to miss the registration deadline,” said Green of the shifted primary date.

The only requirements for voting are that you must be a US citizen, live in Massachusetts and be 18 or older on Election Day. To register, you may also need ID or a document that shows your name and street address. Most citizens can register by mail.

For more information on registering or voting, contact the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s Office at 727-2828 or see the Boston Election Department site at www.cityofboston.gov/elections. MassVOTE has an online registration form at www.massvote.org.