From casting an absentee ballot to combating voter suppression, a former Bernie Sanders campaign staffer takes you through the voting process
By Audra Heinrichs.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that young people could very well decide the result of the 2020 election. Or, any election for that matter. Unfortunately though, they’re typically the least likely to show up to vote according to statistics. None could argue with the fact that this particular election is perhaps the most pivotal one in recent memory, especially among the Gen Z and Millennial demographic. We believe it’s important that everyone who holds the privilege of being able to show up actually does.
So, with just a few months until the election and the state of the nation hanging in the balance, Mission has taken the liberty of creating a useful guide to ensure your vote – whether your first or a reluctant one – will be cast.
Registering to Vote
Given that every state has varying cut-off dates, the first step in this process is verifying if and when you’re able to register. There are a number of organizations that provide a comprehensive list of important dates, but Rock The Vote is among the most concise resources. For instance, when a user clicks on the ‘How to Vote’ tab, a dropdown menu that includes state-by-state cut-off dates alongside the option to register appears.
Not only does Rock The Vote feature deadlines to register to vote, it also allows users to request an absentee ballot if they’d prefer not to do so in person – a good possibility thanks to COVID-19 – and alerts users as to when they’re no longer able to be an absentee voter or vote early.
Because these dates are fast-approaching, be sure to register for election reminders beneath the ‘How to Vote,’ tab to ensure you don’t miss a deadline. If you suspect you may have already registered, you’re also able to confirm your status under the same tab.
Understanding the Issues
Like any important decision, this one must involve its fair share of research. Just because you think you might be certain of who to vote for on a federal level, doesn’t necessarily mean you understand which candidates are best for your community. Many people – even third and fourth-time voters – fail to realize that city councils, school boards, and state lawmakers are also on the ballot, and that it’s just as crucial to be acquainted with these candidates.
We suggest resources like ivoterguide.com, where users can enter their zip code and view their ballot in advance and scroll through a voter guide that states exactly how candidates identify themselves and what their stances on national issues like climate injustice are, as well as issues that impact only your community.
Many states also have individual measures on their ballots to vote on. These can include anything from the allocation of government funds to enacting rent control. We advise visiting Ballotpedia.com to learn more about these.
Casting Your Vote
If you intend on showing up in person this year, any one of the online resources mentioned above will allow you to verify where your designated polling place is, but Vote.org is another fantastic place to check.
Once you’ve determined your polling place, be sure to bring a photo identification card like a state ID or driver’s license on voting day. You can see what your state advises voters to bring here.
Also, wear a mask, be prepared to socially distance while in line, and don’t forget your sanitizer. Circumstances will vary upon locations, but it’s important we’re individually adhering to CDC guidelines as best as possible during this moment. A few snacks or a coffee wouldn’t hurt either. Chances are you may be waiting awhile.
In the event you’re told you aren’t registered, ask to cast a provisional ballot. It’ll still be recorded while poll workers seek to identify any issues with your registration. A provisional ballot is your right, so don’t walk away without asserting so. If you feel your rights were somehow compromised, there are a number of organizations that fight voter suppression including, Let America Vote and Common Cause.
If you choose to vote via absentee ballot or by mail, noting your deadlines is the most important step. Keep in mind that it will take a few days for your ballot to arrive in the mail once you’ve sent it, meaning you shouldn’t leave it until the last moment.
Best of luck, and may you breathe a sigh of relief on November 3.