At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we can’t stress the importance of exercising your right to vote. So to avoid further sounding like a broken record, we’re going to take a step back to let someone else tell you why you — yes, YOU — need to register to vote. It’s not us telling you. It’s your abuelito, your tío Fulgencio, your prima Teresa (you know the one, la que se cree mucho).
The video above is part of “Diles Que Voten,” a new campaign launched by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, Voto Latino, and other groups focused on getting Latinos registered to vote by any means necessary, even if that means getting your family in Latin America to harass you to do it.
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.
Politicians understand that courting a broad and diverse coalition of voters is the key to winning the election. That is what paved the way for the 2008 victory of President Barack Obama as well as the House and Senate during the same election. So far, early voting numbers for young voters are way higher than this point in the 2016 election.
The Biden/Harris campaign is going strong to secure the youth vote days before the election.
The youth vote is an elusive vote and has always been. Presiden Barack Obama successfully brought the youth vote out in 2008 and that led to a sweep by Democrats in the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives. The Biden/Harris campaign is hoping for a similar youth turnout in this election to secure their path to the White House.
Biden and Harris are hoping to turn out young Latino voters.
Latinos are a large electoral voting bloc in the 2020 elections. For the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbers the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. This is a major step into democracy for the Latino community.
Youth voters are currently turning out in early voting in record numbers.
In Florida, current early and absentee voting numbers are showing almost 100,000 more early and absentee youth voters than this time in the 2016 election. Some of the increase in participation in early voting among young voters is pandemic still raging in the U.S. There is also an enthusiasm among young voters to get out and vote.
The 2020 election is energizing similar numbers to the 2008 election between President Obama and Sen. John McCain.
According to polling, 63 percent of voters between 18-29 said they are definitely voting in the 2020 election. This is a major increase in voter participation in 2016 and 2018. The number of young people planning to vote this year is much greater than the 47 percent who said they would vote in 2016 and the 40 percent who planned to vote in 2018. Polling further found that 60 percent of young voters strongly favor Biden in the upcoming election.
There is a lot of appreciation for the young people who are turning up and voting for their future.
This is shaping up to be the most important elections in our lifetime. The rights of several marginalized communities are at stake and access to affordable healthcare is being threatened. In the midst of a pandemic, there is a legal challenge by the Trump administration against the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, that has become increasingly popular in recent years.
One of the most crucial parts of the ACA that would be erased if it is overturned is protections for those with pre-existing conditions. President Trump has often spoken about protecting those with pre-existing conditions but striking down the ACA would also eliminate those protections. There has been no plan to replace the ACA presented by the Trump administration or the Republican Party.