What better way to celebrate than by making your voice heard?
Today kicks off National Hispanic Heritage Month, the 30-day long federally recognized period that’s supposed to highlight and honor the many contributions Latinos have made to American society, but often results in ill-conceived tokenism on the part of brands and organizations. As you, dear readers, indicated on Twitter when we posed the question, you have mixed feelings about the event. This is what you had to say on the subject:
@wearemitu@comosedicenerd It feels like one of those generic attempts at diversity appreciation. Kind of like a cultural food fair. ?
So what do you do with something that’s supposed to pay tribute to you and yours, but you’re kind of meh about the whole idea in the first place? You make it work for you. That’s exactly what Voto Latino, Mi Familia Vota, and iAmerica–three dope organizations doing good in this world–are trying to do with “Hispanic Heritage Month of Action,” a new campaign that will shift the focus of Hispanic Heritage Month away from the half-assed acknowledgments that we exist into something that could show this country that we are a force not to be trifled with.
As their website notes, Hispanic Heritage Month happens to coincide with a lot of states’ deadlines for voter registration. There are currently 27.3 million eligible Latino voters for this upcoming election. Nearly half of those are millennials. We’re the future face of America. We are destined for greatness, but that will only happen if we let our presence be known.
The election heat is on, and you might be totally new to the whole affair. There are a whole lot of things to figure out if it’s your first time voting, including whether you’re eligible, as well as questions about timing, logistics, candidates, and more. No worries, though, because here are some tips for first-time voters as well as people who may be a little out of practice.
And with the Coronavirus pandemic and Republican attacks on voting rights and access, it’s more important than ever that you vote with as much knowledge as possible.
Below, see everything you need to know about being a first-time voter, from registration to placing an absentee ballot to what items you’ll need to be prepared when you head to your polling place.
Make sure you’re registered to vote!
The first step in preparing to vote is to make sure that you’ve registered to vote before the cut-off date, which varies from state to state.
If you won’t be in town, you can cast your vote via an absentee ballot, which is often referred to as mail-in voting. (Note: some states will let you vote by mail even if you will be in town.) VOTE411.org has all the information you need to know about how to get registered and request an absentee ballot in your state. Be extra careful to note the deadline, since absentee ballots often have a due date before the actual election, and the United States Postal Service is likely to get overburdened as Election Day gets closer. Check out Teen Vogue‘s explainer on voting by mail if you want to learn more about the pros and cons of going this route.
Learn more about the candidates and referendums.
Some people may want to vote — but don’t know who to vote for. You can check out voter guides related to your state, as well from organizations that are offering comprehensive information on which candidate is running for which office in your state.Plus, there’s Ballot Ready for learning about the issues candidates stand against or in favor of.
Actually showing up to vote…
Most states will send you a voter card to confirm that you are registered. This piece of mail will likely include your designated polling place. If it doesn’t have that information or you misplaced your card, you can look it up online. Here’s an easy tool that will point you in the right direction. You won’t need to bring your voter card with you, but your state may require a valid photo ID.
Most polling places open between 6 and 9 a.m. and stay open until around 7 to 9 p.m., but double check with yours just to make sure (this will probably be listed online or via your local news media). Show up in the morning if possible to beat the crowds. Many states hold early voting periods in the lead-up to Election Day, which are a great way to avoid long lines and ensure your ballot is counted.
What should you expect at the polling station?
If you’re curious to know what it is like to be at a polling station, just search for “voting machines” along with your state’s name on Google. This should give you ample material on the equipment at the station and how you’re expected to use it.If you don’t have the time, you can simply ask a poll worker who should help you navigate the station
Can you take a selfie to show off your pride in democracy?
You may also be tempted to take a selfie with your ballot to share your experience on social media. However, make sure to be careful of your state’s laws when it comes to taking photos at a polling station. According to USA Today, some states strictly forbid taking photos, although many states still have unclear guidelines. If you are unsure of what your state allows, it’s probably a safer bet to not post that selfie.
What should you do if you feel like your rights were violated?
In the event that you suspect your voting rights were violated (for example, if you think your voter registration was removed or you were turned away from a polling station for a suspicious reason) contact the number for ACLU’s Election Protection: (866) 687-8683. The website provides detailed information for contacting officials in your own state.
What should you do if there are intimidating political groups or others protesting outside your polling place?
Nearly every state in America prohibits people from political campaigning within 100 feet of the voting station. If you are aggressively accosted by someone attempting to persuade or dissuade your voting choice, alert a polling official.
With so much at stake this election year, it’s important to understand the circumstances behind some of our biggest beliefs. Currently there are little questions as to whether Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is in opposition to a person’s right to abortion. Her Catholic faith, her academic writing, and accounts from friends affirm that she has opposes the medical procedure. During a 2017 confirmation hearing for her current position as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, Coney Barret stated that she was bound to follow the Roe decision as an appeals court judge stating “Roe has been affirmed many times and survived many challenges in the court… And it’s more than 40 years old, and it’s clearly binding on all courts of appeals. And so it’s not open to me or up to me, and I would have no interest in, as a court of appeals judge, challenging that precedent.”
There’s likely no chance of changing her mind, but we were curious about how women felt.
A recent post on Reddit posed the question: What changed your mind on abortion?
Check out the answers below!
“Being pregnant (with a very much wanted baby). I’ve always been pro choice, but learning about how much can go wrong in a pregnancy made it very apparent abortion is far from a black and white issue. For example, say the fetus has some defect where it can be carried to term, but will 100% die shortly after birth. There is no reason the mother should be forced to carry out the whole pregnancy. There are so many other nuances like this that are not possible to legislate.” – kittyinparis
“having one myself. i was religious, orthodox christian once upon a time. i hate to be one of those people who didn’t understand something until i experienced it myself but it is what it was. i extremely naive and ignorant because i thought that it was as simple as “don’t get pregnant if you don’t want a kid”. but it’s really not. and you never know what someone’s story is. and even then, regardless of their situation i think if someone doesn’t want to be pregnant it’s immoral to force them to be.” – Reddit user
“Honestly? Biology class. They went over sexual reproduction step by step and I just couldn’t buy the whole “humanity begins at conception” thing anymore. Then I started reading what all those scary buzzwords meant and I got a bit pissed off. Turns out the evil “partial-birth abortions” are usually called D&Es and they’re usually only done to babies with no chance of survival or in the cases of miscarriages. That’s not evil. That’s sad. I felt lied to, in a big way.” – Moritani
“I learned more about the concepts of bodily autonomy and consent and decided that it’s wrong to force people to remain pregnant against their will.” – enerjem
“When I first learned about the concept it seemed like a terrible thing but even after just 20 minutes of research (I did a lot more clearly, but this is just to emphasize how simple this decision was) I became pro-choice at 14ish, and I’ve had that stance ever since. So I only barely changed my mind really, but I think it counts because without looking into it I could’ve gone on believing it to be morally repugnant just because of what it sounds like and because it’s a subject that’s so easy to get carried away on and not look at objectively.” – ypical_Humanoid
“Paying my own bills. It’s a lot harder to feed two mouths than one.” – Reddit user
“Having kids. Pre-kids i was very prolife. Went to rallys and everything. Would have stressed and felt guilty if i got pregnant and dont knownwhat i would have chosen though. 4 kids later and several oops…im very pro choice.” – Strikingachord
“I was pro-life until I was about 13. I figure my brain developed more and I was then better able to see the issue in a more global and expansive way and determined that pro-choice was the most ethical stance.” – searedscallops
“Meeting someone in college who had had one in the past, and who spoke openly about it. She didn’t regret it or torture herself with guilt and shame over it, but she wasn’t a depraved monster, either. She was a wonderful person who did what was best for herself and her situation.” –coffeeblossom
“I don’t know that I was ever pro-life in the same way I don’t think I was ever really Christian. I grew up in an Evangelical Protestant denomination, and until about middle school I mostly parroted things I heard. Things like “hate the sin love the sinner” for anything from being gay to probably having an abortion.
Sometime around middle school I started questioning all of it, forming my own opinions on things. I landed on atheist pro-choice feminist and have stayed there since.” – DejaBlonde