On Display: Democracy 101: American Elections and How They Work

Welcome to primary season!  

While Election Day isn’t until November 3rd, the election process starts much earlier. On February 3rd, the first of the party primary elections and caucuses kicked off in Iowa. Other states will be holding their party primaries throughout the spring. Massachusetts primary voters will be heading to the polls on Super Tuesday – March 3rd.  

But wait – what is a primary? What is a caucus? What is Super Tuesday? How does this whole thing work? 

Head to the Bentley Library to see our latest display: “Democracy 101: American Elections and How They Work”. This display pulls together materials that can help answer those questions and more with a focus on presidential elections. Topics covered in the book selections include primaries and caucuses, campaign finance, public opinion polling, voter behavior, political parties, historical election results, and everything else you might want to know about the American electoral process. You’ll also be able to find some feature films and documentaries about both real and fictional U.S. elections! 

Research. Register. Vote.

We know that for many of our Bentley students this may be your first time voting in a presidential election. Here are some tips: 

  • Research. Research the candidates and different positions to see which candidate you might want to vote for. And don’t forget, this election isn’t just about electing a president – there are elections for Congress, state elections, and your local elections. There may also be different ballot measures that you may be asked to vote on.  
  • Register. Each state has its own rules regarding registration deadlines and how you can register. You’ll want to make sure that you’re all set to vote prior to election day. Check your state’s Secretary of State website or Election Office website for information. The Office of the Registrar here at Bentley offers Voter Registration Information as well.  
  • Vote. Know before election day where your polling place is and when you can vote. Some states offer early voting. For those of you who may not be able to get to your polling place on Election Day, you may need to request an Absentee or Mail-In Ballot. Check your state’s voter information website to find out the process. 

Still want to know more? 

Check out our American Political Elections Research Guide with some Election 2020 specific resources that will get updated throughout the year as we get closer to Election Day. 

National Voter Registration Day – Make Your Voice Count!

Today is National Voter Registration Day! The last day to register to vote in Massachusetts for the upcoming November election is October 17. You can register to vote online, by mail, or in-person. To find voter registration information for your home state please visit USA.gov’s “How to Vote” site.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to make your voice count. If you know that you won’t be able to physically make it to the polls on November 6th you can request and cast your absentee ballot by mail. (Trust us, it’s easy!) Visit USA.gov to find absentee voting rules and deadlines for all states.

We’re so excited about National Voter Registration Day we made buttons! Stop at the Library Services Desk today to grab a “vote” button or two and show the world that you are a voter!

New Research Guide: American Political Elections

American Flag

Election Day 2016 is fast approaching!  A new guide from the library “American Political Elections” not only provides information on elections in the United States but also highlights Presidential Election 2016 resources that can help you keep up to date until you cast your vote on November 8th.

Find information such as:

  • Links to candidate websites
  • Dates and times for the televised debates
  • Voting information
  • Sources of election news coverage

However, it’s not just the presidential election that will be decided on November 8th! State and local elections are also taking place including congressional races. See the “Voting” section to find out how to get connected to your state’s voter resources where you can find out registration deadlines, polling places, how to get an absentee ballot, information on the local elections, and more!


Image Credit: U.S. Flag. By jnn1776, 2009, (Flickr). Used under Creative Commons License BY-SA 2.0.

Get Informed! Resources for Voters

Vote!The 2012 elections are coming up fast, and there are a lot of races on the ballots of all states – not just the presidential one. Arm yourself with the best information from library resources and the web with our Election Resources Research Guide. It includes voter information (including specific information for Massachusetts voters*), and the best places to get nonpartisan and bipartisan information. Check it out before you go to the polls!

*FYI: The registration deadline to vote in Massachusetts is October 17. Look at our guide to see how to register!

Get Informed: Library and Online Resources for Voters

Midterm elections are scheduled for Tuesday, November 2, less than three weeks from now. Senate races are going on in 36 states; races for governor are taking place in 37 states (including Massachusetts), and races for the House of Representatives are going on in every state. Wherever you’re registered to vote, you can arm yourself with information about candidates, ballot questions, and more with the following library-recommended resources.

Get the latest news coverage through the library’s subscriptions to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and more (including local Massachusetts newspapers) through our News databases. Or, search for transcripts of interviews with candidates through LexisNexis Academic, which includes transcripts from media outlets like Fox, NPR, and ABC. Just click on the “News” category on the side, and choose “TV & Radio Transcripts.” (A recent search for the phrase “senate race” in the last three months yielded 1,591 results!)

Want information about where to vote, or what’s on your local ballot? If you’re a Massachusetts voter, there is a limited number of Voter Information Packets located near the magazine rack in the library entrance from the Deloitte Cafe. You can get the same information by going to the Massachusetts Election Division website – you can locate your polling place or check out this year’s three statewide ballot questions. If you’re registered in another state, similar information can be found at the League of Women Voters’ Smart Voter website. Just enter your address to locate your polling place and local ballot.

And if the election’s got you interested in American politics, the library has tons of books and DVDs on U.S. politics and government, and voting and political participation in the U.S., not to mention recent books and audiobooks about political figures like Karl Rove, John Edwards, Michael Bloomberg, and Ted Kennedy.

As Thomas Jefferson said in a 1789 letter, “[W]herever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government.” (You can read the whole letter, if you want, in the library’s copies of Jefferson’s papers.)