In today’s high-paced world, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of the vast amount of information that you’re being exposed to. Consequently, it can be challenging to build a dependable mental map of your simple daily tasks. Something that once represented a stance for equality and freedom is nowadays taken for granted, lost in ordinary day-to-day routines and confused by overwhelming amounts of information – the right to vote.
But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. In the 2020 Presidential Elections, over 159 million US citizens spoke up, showing a unified longing for a change in political leadership. That’s the largest total attendees turnout in U.S. history and the first time more than 140 million people voted.
So when the next election comes, you’re committed to voting – that’s settled. But what now? We put together some key suggestions to keep in mind when entering the polls, so you place your vote with confidence and that your vote won’t go to waste.
Know your rights and obligations
Firstly, make sure your voter’s registration is up to date and that you have all the necessary documents. It’s worth noting that you can request fully paid time off during work hours in most states. On average, you’d have two or three hours for that, without losing a cent from your salary.
Moreover, some states impose penalties if an employer denies employees from exercising their right to vote. For example, in Arizona, an employee may be fined up to $20,000, not to mention a tainted public image if they violate the time-off-to-vote law.
- To ensure you’re fully prepared to vote and don’t suffer confusion and frustration during voting itself, check what candidates, questions, and other information you’ll see on the ballot. Simply input your home or your local polling place address, and don’t let yourself get caught off-guard while filling out the ballot.
After selecting your county and city, you’ll be introduced with a sample ballot, the exact copy of the one you’ll be placing your votes on. It’ll be available for your review 45 days ahead of the election date.
On your ballot, you’ll find races with information regarding U.S. Representative, Governor & Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor, Attorney General, State Senator, State Representative, and judicial seats. You also may see one or more races on your ballot with City Officers, School Board Members, Township Officers, and other local ballot questions.
Remember to double-check if you filled out the form correctly, and if you find a mistake, just kindly ask for a replacement sheet, and your initial error will disappear into thin air. Remember that you only have two chances, and after that, you can’t place your vote in dropbox.
Invest your time in research
Know and trust yourself, but before voting, invest some of your time in thorough research about the issues that are important to you and find out which candidates share similar values. Don’t simply follow what your gut or the media tells you, consider topics that matter the most for you, such as education, civil rights, international relations, health care, religious beliefs, or equality.
As far as finding candidates that align with your concerns and perspectives, always remain skeptical. Pre-election time is often heated with scandals or filled with fake promises, swaying you to their side, saying what you want to hear. What can keep your mind clear is acquiring basic knowledge of politicians’ marketing strategies. Know the tools they use, and you’ll learn to be aware of the results they want to achieve.
Another way to be informed is to check out how candidates have voted on past issues. Don’t limit your research to just one source, and look for various unbiased, fact-based websites. The more sources you can back up the information with, the more reliable it is. But always be careful about what you read, as fake news tends to spread like wildfire.
Location and date are not obstacles
Whether you live abroad, are traveling, or are otherwise unable to vote in person, you can apply for an absentee ballot in advance. In some states, you will need to fill out an online application, while in others, you’ll have to send an email to the address provided on your local government website.
If you know ahead of time that you won’t be in your hometown for election time or have an important event on that exact date, you can attend early in-person voting. Beforehand, contact your Local Election Office and check the dates and locations of early voting locations.
No matter the circumstances, we should keep proving that voting is not only a primary civic duty but, most importantly, a sacred right, directly influencing our future. Taking action and responsibly voting will help create a strong society sharing common, well-fortified values.
Build the courage within yourself to gain political knowledge with WeWillDecide.