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How to Prepare for Election Season
Everything you need and more to ensure you show up as an informed voter this fall!
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Did you know that between the 2020 and 2024 elections, 17 million young people will become of voting age?! That’s huge! It also means the face of our electorate is rapidly changing, and we need to ensure voters like YOU have all the necessary tools in your toolkit to claim our democracy. As a voter, your vote holds the key to deciding the future of our country. We know that elections can seem daunting and overwhelming, but we want to equip you with the knowledge to show up and take action at the polls this fall.

Check Your Voter Registration Status

Democracy is a full-contact sport. And like any sport, it requires the proper preparation, practice, and gear. The first step to being an informed voter? Check your registration status!

Already registered? Awesome. That’s what we love to hear!

Not yet? No worries! We’re here to make registering to vote super simple (seriously, it will only take two minutes)! Click here to register. You’ll also want to check out your state’s voter registration deadline. Some states allow you to register right up to election day, while others require your registration a few weeks or days in advance. Find your state’s requirements here.

Can’t remember? We have you covered. You can check your voter registration status here, or even change your address if needed. Even a move across town may require you to update your voter registration. And don’t worry! If you re-register at your current address, there is no penalty.

Not 18 yet? Many states allow you to register to vote if you’re younger than 18, as long as you’ll be 18 by Election Day. Check your state’s laws here. And P.S. Some states let 17-year-olds vote in primary elections if they’ll be 18 by the November election. See if your state qualifies here.

Know Your Ballot

You wouldn’t show up to a test without studying? So why show up to the polls without doing your research? Before you cast your vote, check out who–and what–will be on the ballot. Use the Vote411 Voter Guide to learn more about who is running for office in your community, and what their stance is on the issues you care most about. You’ll also see what issues are being voted on in your community. Ballot initiatives are proposed laws put on a ballot for voter consideration through collecting signatures. They are the measures that may directly impact your city and state and, ultimately, your day-to-day life. Make sure you’re up to date on what will be on your ballot this fall!

Make a Voting Plan

You’re registered to vote and you know what’s on the ballot. Now it’s time to make a voting plan! Knowing how and when you’ll cast your vote is an important part of being an informed voter. It means you’ve planned and prepared to ensure that your voice–and vote–will be heard.

Voting Absentee/By Mail/By Drop-Off. Voting by mail has gained popularity over the past few years (especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic), but it’s extremely important to know all the steps necessary to vote by mail.

  • First, you need to formally request your mail-in ballot. Be sure to check out your state’s requirements for requesting a ballot. Some states allow you to request one online, while others require you to send a request via mail. Some might even send them directly to you! If you’ve decided voting by mail is your preferred way to go, act now! You’ll want to request your ballot ASAP. You can view your state’s deadlines here.
  • Make sure you know when your mail-in ballot is due! The last thing you want is to go through all the effort to request a mail-in ballot and miss the deadline to submit your vote! Oftentimes, you’ll need to mail in your ballot or drop it off at a designated location–like your local voter clerk’s office. This nifty tool will help you return and track your ballot.

Voting in-person. Sometimes, nothing can replace a good ole’ fashioned trip to the polls! Which is why we totally understand if voting in-person is your preferred voting method this fall. Remain an informed voter and have everything in place before visiting the polls this fall.

  • Know the location of your polling place. Polling places are typically public buildings accessible to many, like a school or community center. Your address is associated with a specific polling location, so you’ll want to double (and triple!) check that you know where you’re headed. You can find your location here. Be sure you check their hours as well, especially if you plan to vote before or after school or work!
  • Arrange transportation and a voting “buddy!” Together is always better! Encourage friends and family to vote with you and find ways to travel to the polls together. Whether driving yourself, taking public transportation, or even a rideshare app–many of which offer discounted rides on Election Day–it’s important to know how you’ll get to and from the polls.
  • Come prepared. Every informed voter knows what they can and cannot bring to the polls. Voter ID laws vary by state, so knowing what specific forms of ID your polling place will require is of the utmost importance. You can find out what you’ll need here. Of course, we always want you to be able to bring your full self to the polls, but to avoid voter interference some states do not allow you to wear clothing that endorses a certain candidate or political agenda. You can get in pretty big trouble, and poll workers can even send you home for violating the rules. Find out what you’re allowed (or not allowed) to wear here.

Vote (and know what to expect)!

On Election Day, know that your vote is part of the collective power demanding–and expecting–that our democracy works for all!

Know your rights. No other voter or canvasser can intimidate or harass you to vote a certain way. If you’re approached at your polling place and feel threatened, you can call the ACLU hotline to report this and protect your right to vote: 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Grab your sticker. Come on, we all know one of the best parts of voting is the “I Voted!” sticker. Be sure to pick up your sticker on the way out and even snap a selfie. Tweet or DM us your best “I Voted!” selfie and we’ll share on social media!

Follow the results. Be sure to consult trusted news sources for real-time updates on the results of your state’s election. Know that sometimes results will come in through the evening of Election Day or even in the following days, so winners and decisions may not be announced on Election Day. However, know that you did it. You cast your vote, and you're making a difference in shaping the future of our democracy!

Take care of your mental health. A lot is going on in the world. And some of it’s pretty heavy. No matter who you voted for or how you’re feeling about current events, election season can make issues feel difficult to manage. Everyone processes things differently. Take care of yourself first. You can check out some tips to practice post-election self-care or visit our diverse mental health resource hub.

GET INVOLVED

Make a difference in your community and add your vision to the future of our democracy