1. If you’re not registered to vote,
that’s your top to-do.
Find out cutoff dates and
how to register in your state. Hint: in most cases it’s as simple as filling out an online form. Even if you’re already a voter, it’s a good idea to check your registration status in case you need to update your info because of a move or name change.
2. Time for the big decision: Will
you vote by mail or in-person?
OK, so it’s not the biggest decision when it comes to voting, but it feels like a huge one in 2020 because of the pandemic. If you’re thinking of casting your ballot from the comfort of your couch because of COVID-19 or where you’ll be on election day, check your state’s rules for voting absentee or by mail-in ballot. If you’re marching your boots to your designated polling place, find out where that is and what you’ll need.
If you need to request a mail-in ballot, it’s important to get on it already. That’s because deadlines lurk. And if you need to procure any identification information, like a renewed photo ID, you’ll want to do that ahead of time as well. Check your schedule for voting day and make a plan for heading to the polls during polling hours.
4. Do your homework on the candidates and their political
Sometimes it seems like studying rocket science would be easier… but in order to vote responsibly we’ve got to figure out who is who. One of the easiest ways to learn the candidates running for office and their party affiliation is to view a sample ballot.
5. Research the issues at stake.
Once you know the candidates and their affiliations, you can review their stance on important issues by checking their election websites. Some of the hot-button issues in 2020 include the coronavirus response, economic and racial inequality, health care, Supreme Court appointments, immigration, abortion, gun policy, climate change, and more. Whew!
6. Pick your candidates of choice and make a cheat sheet.
As you do your research, take notes on who you plan to vote for when the time comes. Print a sample ballot, or just make a paper cheat sheet for reference.
7. Cast your vote — because every vote counts!
You’ve done your homework and are more than ready to perform your civic duty and right. So fill out that mail-in ballot (and mail it ahead of cutoff dates!), or head to your designated polling place. Wear your “I voted” sticker with major pride or post a digital version to your socials.
3. Gather your materials ASAP!
And make a plan.