I am entering the 2020 election season with tons of confusion. Between trying to sift through candidates, researching policies, and understanding odd-numbered year elections, voting can feel extremely overwhelming.
Luckily, I have two close friends from college who are actively involved in politics. They are incredibly smart, strong young women who inspire me to get more involved with our local government decisions. Of course, I turned to these two ladies to give me some tips when I was a scared first-time voter. The first time I voted in the Illinois 2018 election, I felt a wave of pride and accomplishment as I left the booth, thanks to the help of these ladies. Now I can confidently exercise my right to vote! This is more important now than ever- keep reading to pick up some helpful tips!
Make Sure You’re Registered to Vote
This is, of course, the critical first step for new voters. In most states, you can check online to see whether or not you’re registered. If you have recently moved, it is extra important to make sure your registration is up to date! Check your county Board of Elections website or Vote.org. You can register to vote online or in person at your state or local election office, DMV, or army recruitment centers.
Make a Specific Plan
Make sure you know when Election Day is, where your polling place is, how you will get there, and when you will you go. Remember that there are multiple election days - for primaries, caucuses, and general elections. You can find your dates here. Lines can be long, so it’s helpful to plan ahead so you won’t be forced to leave due to your schedule! You can find your polling place at vote.org.
If You Can’t Vote in Person, Get an Absentee Ballot
This can be done through your county Board of Elections Website. You will be sent a ballot in the mail, and you’ll be instructed where to send your ballot after it’s sent to you. Here is a link to receive your absentee ballot. Absentee ballot deadlines vary by state but you can find your state’s deadlines here!
Know What’s On Your Ballot
There’s more to a ballot than just a short list of names. You may be asked to vote on a wide variety of measures, locally and federally. Go to Vote411.org to learn what will be on your specific ballot based on where you’re registered to vote.
Remember Non-Presidential and Odd-Numbered Years are Still Important
Crucial non-presidential elections such for the Senate and House of Representatives happen on even years. However, several states hold gubernatorial elections on off years, as well as elections on the municipal and local level. These are often the elections that determine local government seats. These ballot measures affect your community directly, and they shouldn’t be overlooked, even though they may not receive as large a press coverage as presidential elections.
All of these tips should be done as early as possible. Even now you can check your registration and make a plan to vote. Most states allow voters to vote in person starting a few weeks before Election Day. This means you avoid the hassle and long lines, and get your voting done ASAP!
Voting is your duty and your right! Now more than ever, it is crucial that young womxn, as there are so many policies on the table that could affect womxn greatly in 2020. Here are all the women’s rights policies proposed by Democratic candidates so far. LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, abortion policy, sexual violence prevention, and equal pay are all critical issues that could be greatly affected in this upcoming election. Although the electoral process can feel so complicated and overwhelming, if you follow these tips, nothing should stop you from exercising your right to vote. I am so excited to take over the polls in 2020 with my fellow young badasses.