Tomorrow is election day in the US. Whether you’re a first time voter or a voting veteran, here are a couple tips to make sure you’re all set and ready to vote with no problems tomorrow.
Make a plan
There is actual scientific research that shows that you’re more likely to vote if you think through a plan for voting, so take some time on Monday evening to figure out your plan for Tuesday. What time do the polls open and close in your state? Do you have work or school tomorrow and if so, will you be voting before or after? Where is your polling place? How are you getting there? As a bonus, ask your friends and colleagues what their plans to vote on Tuesday are so that they can go through the same mental exercise.
Do Your Homework
You might already know you’re voting for Hillary, but there is going to be a lot more on your ballot than just voting for our next president. It helps if you’ve done your research ahead of time on all the candidates and ballot measures you will be voting on. Lots of people skip these sections, allowing small groups of extremist to vote unfit candidates into down-ballot positions or disquise extreme policies in confusing or bureaucratic language, so it’s really worth it if you take the time to learn about all your down-ballot choices. Look up your sample ballot ahead of time and research any sections you are unsure of. Remember, you’re allowed to bring anything you want into the polling booth with you, so it’s ok to show up with a stack of papers with all your notes on who and what you’ve decided to vote for. Voting goes much quicker and easier if you go in already familiar with everything on the ballot. However, if you are in there voting and realize there is something you are unsure of, remember that you can take as long as you need and can quickly and easily look up information on your phone if need be. Voting is not a test, so it’s ok to use your phone in the voting booth to look up additional information.
Know Your State’s Voter ID Laws
Some state’s do not require ID to vote, but other states do. In many cases, the type of ID needed to vote is stricter than the kind of ID needed to get on an airplane. Look up the voter ID laws for your state to make sure you show up prepared on election day. If your ID has anything that might be viewed as contradictory, such as a different address than the one you are registered at, you might want to bring along a piece of unopened mail such as a utility bill just to be sure you aren’t turned away.
Voting in states with ID laws can be especially tricky for people who are transgender. The National Center for Transgender Equality released this useful pamphlet that explains what your rights are if someone tries to deny you your right to vote based on your gender presentation. If you are transgender, you might want to read through it or even take it with you when you go to vote so that you’re prepared if anyone attempts to stop you from voting.
Don’t Give Up if You Face Opposition
It’s not uncommon for there to be bureaucratic mistakes, such as not being listed at the polling place even though you are registered to vote, or for poll workers to not understand the law and try to prevent you from voting for various reasons. If you are registered to vote but facing opposition at the polls, you can call the National Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) or the Justice Voting Rights Hotline (800-253-3931) to be connected with a lawyer who can help you out.
You might face a long line when you get to the polls. Remember that in most cases you merely have to be in line by the time the polls close in order to vote. So, even if the line is long and the polls are about to close, you should still get in the queue because the polling station will likely remain open even well past the official closing time if there are people still in line.
Donald Trump has called on his supporters to potentially intimidate voters, particularly black or latino voters, at the polls. This is absolutely illegal. The ACLU has this useful flyer on what types of voter intimidation are against the law. If you see something that you believe is voter intimidation at a polling location, you can call the National Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) or the Justice Voting Rights Hotline (800-253-3931) to report it.
If you’re worried about voter intimidation and scared or nervous to go vote by yourself, reach out to a friend or someone you know and ask them to go with you. Remember that your anxiety over potential voter intimidation is legitimate and it’s ok to ask for help. If you are personally able and willing to go with others to the polls, it’s a good idea to put the message out there on social media so your friends can contact you if they need someone to go with them. On that note, if you happen to live in Chicago and need someone to come with you when you vote, you’re welcome to contact me on twitter. I’ll try to go with you or will try to find someone else in the city who can.
With all the things that can go wrong, it’s easy to forget all the good you’re doing with your vote. Take some time to bask in the glow of exercising your right to vote. Your vote matters. You matter. Don’t forget to pick up your “I voted” sticker or wrist band on the way out of the polling station and wear it proud!
Featured photo by Jamie Bernstein. All Rights Reserved.