Everything You Need To Know To Vote In The 2016 Presidential Election
In case you hadn't heard, the election is happening on November 8.
Yeah. For real. Finally. After months of hype. Here we go. This is happening. Yes.
So the election is on Tuesday, and you want to vote. Let's go over how that works.
First of all, are you registered to vote?
Pretty much every voter registration deadline for this election has passed, so I really, really hope you're already registered.
If you're not sure if you're registered, you can check online.
But if you thought you registered and your name isn't showing up online, don't give up.
Call your county or city election office and see what's up.
A few states actually do let you register in person at the polls on Election Day.
Check this handy guide from Rock the Vote to see if your state is one of those.
If you do plan to register at the polls, you should give yourself extra time, because it might take a minute.
So you're registered to vote. Now how do you actually do the thing?
OK, I just have to assume right now you haven't already either voted early or sent in an absentee ballot.
If you've already done one of those things, you cannot vote on November 8, to be clear.
Now that that's out of the way, you need to know where your polling place is.
Again, you can look this up online. Do this today. Right now.
Figure out how you're going to get there.
If you can drive, check the route and parking options.
If you're taking public transportation, check schedule and timing.
You'll want to give yourself some time.
In many places, you can't just hop in and vote in 30 seconds, so don't rely on being able to drop in on your way to work or class.
There could be long lines at your polling place, and you want to make sure you give yourself enough time to account for big crowds.
You may have to bring certain items with you.
Some states have requirements like voter ID laws.
These are generally considered Bad Laws because they can keep people from voting, but unfortunately we can't change the laws right now, so you've got to do your best to comply.
You can check what sort of ID you need to bring online.
You'll especially want to check this if you're a first-time voter or voting for the first time in a new state.
A lot of places will require a proof of address, like a mailed bill or something, so again, check this now.
Right now. Check it right now.
And you may not be able to bring certain things with you.
Most states have rules against bringing campaign materials into the polling place.
When you approach the polling place, you might notice there are some people holding campaign stands but standing like 50 feet away from the polling place entrance.
That's because of these laws, which say you can't be campaigning in the polling place.
In some states, this also means you can't wear clothing associated with a candidate when you go vote.
So think twice before wearing your MAGA hat or nasty woman t-shirt, just to be safe.
If someone tries to stop you from entering the polling place, you have options.
There have been threats of voter intimidation, like people standing around polling places trying to scare you away from voting.
They might yell at you or try and block you from entering.
You have the right to vote. Don't let someone else make you think otherwise.
If this happens to you, you have options. Debra Cleaver, CEO and founder of Vote.org (which is an excellent resource for you), gave this advice:
Walk away from the person who's harassing [you] and into the polls. Don't engage.
Just walk directly into your polling place.
Once you're there, you can call the Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683).
Election Protection is there to make sure no one stops your vote from happening.
If the person is blocking you from entering the polling place, Cleaver's advice is similar:
Walk away and call Election Protection.
There's also a Spanish language hotline if you encounter voter intimidation run by NALEO.
That number is 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682). Save these numbers into your contacts now.
When you finally get into your polling booth, take a deep breath.
The actual mechanics of voting differ based on state. You are in no rush. Look carefully at what's in front of you.
Hopefully by this point you've already decided for who (and what!) you're voting. So just...you know...vote for her/him/it.
If you're confused by how it works, there are people at the polls who are working there so you're able to ask questions.
Breathe. And don't fuck it up.
You may or may not be able to take a selfie.
We've already gone over this, but laws about selfies differ by state. Just make sure you won't get arrested before hitting the Snap.
Pick up your "I Voted" sticker and get on your way.
You did it!! I'm so proud of you!!!!
As with everything in life, voting is pretty simple as long as you're prepared and give yourself time.
Don't underestimate the value of doing a couple minutes' worth of research on your particular voting needs right now.
Like right now. Do it.
I believe in you. Go forth and vote.
You got this.