Published on Oct. 30, 2020
Voting is supposed to be relatively easy, but many people I know have been working on their voting plans for months. From planning three hours of travel into an already packed week to packing a voting go-bag, voting isn’t about filling in an oval — it’s planning for a monsoon just in case the local meteorologist was wrong about a 20% chance of rain (remember to check the weather before you head out just in case you have to wait outside).
As the election creeps closer, voting can seem difficult. This is your opportunity to double-check your plan before Tuesday rolls around just to make sure that all your bases are covered.
The must-haves and must-knows:
- The election is next Tuesday (Nov. 3, 2020).
- Double-check your polling location and make sure you know how to get there/where to park. Whether this is your first election or you’ve participated before, verifying where you vote is never a bad thing. If it hasn’t changed, you know the drill. If it has, you saved yourself a little bit of stress.
- Pack your photo ID and maybe even a backup if you have another one that fits the guidelines. Missouri is one of 34 states that require a photo ID in order to actually vote. Forgetting the small card that says that you’re you could mean being turned away until you have one.
- Dress for the weather (and the rules). As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, polling locations don’t allow campaigning within a certain distance of the polls. Despite some messages not being inherently politically, it’s safer to avoid anything the looks like it could be political. It’s not always fairly enforced, but protecting your vote isn’t about other people. Additionally, make sure to dress for the weather in case you get stuck in a long line.
- Bring a mask. While many polling locations are working to provide masks to people who forget theirs, your polling location may not have extras. Being prepared by making sure you have one is important.
- Know your right to vote and try to plan for time. In Missouri, employers are not required to give employees time to vote unless their shift starts less than three hours before the polls open or ends less than three hours before the polls close. While it’s not always practical for everyone, try to plan a time of your day dedicated to voting.
Tips to keep in mind:
- Pack a go-bag. It may sound intense, but having a bag with water, some snacks, hand sanitizer/wipes, and all the other “just-in-case” items you can think of isn’t a bad idea. Whether the bag helps you or someone around you, having it there offers a great sense of security.
- Make sure your phone is charged, but don’t turn on the camera in the booth. Having your phone on you so that you can quickly verify any information given by people at the polling location or ready just in case something bad happens that you can document for the sake of protecting others and their rights to vote is a good way to quickly solve problems on election day. However, while it doesn’t happen often, if you take a photo of your ballot and post it anywhere, your vote can technically be revoked.
- If you’re anxious about voting, try finding a voting buddy. The first time I voted, I was a little nervous about the entire process, but my brother was able to go vote with me. Having someone that you know can make voting feel less stressful for some.
- Have the number of your election authority saved or memorized. If something happens, knowing the number to call can help protect voters from being unfairly impacted by people at the polls (such as poll watchers and poll challengers).
- Check-in with your friends, family, coworkers, or classmates to make sure they have a plan to vote. Sometimes, something as simple as, “what’s your plan” can a voter to the polls. People may not have a plan, or think they need one. An easy way to engage with voter education is to help people build and shape their voting plans.
- Wear that sticker with pride! When people see the “I voted” stickers in public, it might remind them that they need to vote. Wearing the sticker isn’t just the cool part of voting — it’s another tool for voter education.
Make sure your plan is solid and verified before Tuesday. Additionally, if this election has been rough for you, you’re allowed to give yourself a break after you cast the ballot. For those who feel they need to get more involved, remember that the elections are not the only way to create positive change.
When the polls open on Tuesday, I have my voting plan — do you?