Published on Oct. 5, 2020
Updated on Oct. 20, 2020
We believe voter education is vital, so, leading up to the November 3rd election, we are going to provide you with information about different parts of the voting process as a way to increase understanding and awareness of when and how to vote. We will also discuss the history of voter suppression, the importance of local elections, knowing your rights and what to do to prepare for Election Day and the emotional importance of voting in this moment.
If you missed our Voter Guide Part I: Important Info and Dates click here.
Part II: “How to” Guide
- How to fill out a ballot
- If you are differently-abled, you have a right to get help with voting. It may be worth researching what assistance your polling place offers, and if you feel that you are not receiving proper assistance, speak to your voting authority ASAP.
- If you are anxious about what will be on the ballot, you can view the issues and candidates that will be on YOUR ballot by searching your address (that you are registered at) on vote411.org/ballot.
- Use a black or blue pen
- Fill out the information as clearly and as truthfully as possible. This is especially important if you are voting absentee or mail-in. Make sure to look up how to fill out the envelope for your state before sending it in.
- Completely fill in the oval to the left of the response of your choice. Make sure to fill this out as clear as you can.
- The Ballot may have contents printed on the front and back. Double-check your ballot before returning it.
- You do not have to vote on all the people or issues on the ballot. Those you do vote on will still count.
- Once you have returned your ballot you can not change your vote.
- If you vote for more candidates than allowed or you vote both Yes and No on a measure, it is called an overvote. Your vote will not count for that candidate or measure.
- Avoid making any marks outside of the spaces outside the designated ovals or questions.
- How to research the candidates and legislation on the ballot
- If you are not aware of the issues/people on your ballot, you can find this by searching your address (that you are registered at) on vote411.org/ballot.
- Use online resources specifically tailored for voter information, such as:
- Find the politician’s website, but take the information listed here with a critical eye. It will be extremely biased, but it does offer a clean image of what the candidate has to offer.
- If you are looking at a specific issue, find the legislation and then look at the articles for and against it if you are unsure after reading the actual legislation.
- Look for the politician’s (and their team’s) social media or online presence.
- How to stay safe while voting
- Remember to wear a mask. In many places, masks are required for not only your safety but the poll worker’s safety as well.
- Bring hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes if you can.
- It is best to pack a bottled or mostly spill-proof drink and a snack. While long lines don’t happen everywhere, this form of inefficiency can impact many people’s ability to vote (and is often seen as a form of voter suppression).
- Do not show your ballot to anyone except poll workers. Some people’s votes have been discarded due to them posting them online.
- Wear comfortable clothes in case you have to stand in line.
- It is best to bring multiple forms of id, but looking up the laws for your polling location can help you feel more prepared.
- Look up your polling location’s rules and rights to ensure you know what you are allowed to do and what people at the polls are allowed to do.
- Quick tips to think about at the last minute
- Try to avoid bringing anything into the polling place that could be considered political by other people. Even if you wear a shirt that you would not consider political, it can cause you to be kicked out for violating the rules. It is best to wear plain colored clothes and masks to ensure that this does not happen.
- Triple-check that you have everything you need to vote. Pack your bag the night before if you can.
- If you are concerned about anything happening at a polling location, ask a poll worker. If you think that a poll worker is acting inappropriately, contact your local election authority.
- This is your right. Voting matters, and your vote matters. If you feel you have experienced voter suppression, contact a local organization that works with protecting those rights (for example, the ACLU).