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The Election Is Just Around The Corner: Here’s Everything You Need To Know To Make Sure Your Vote Counts

Let’s face it, the 2020 election is shaping up to be one of the most confusing, alarming, yet consequential elections in history. With just a few weeks out from the election, we find ourselves in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, historic unemployment, calls to defund the USPS and a nasty public relations battle which threatens to dismantle safe and secure ways to vote.

States are already working to change everything to accommodate the coronavirus, from stocking up on hand sanitizer to making arrangements to use NBA arenas as polling places. But the biggest difference is mail-in voting.

The president recently said he would reject emergency funding to the USPS because, “they need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.” Despite voting by mail himself and encouraging his own campaign supporters to do so, President Trump is claiming mail-in voting will lead to fraud, which many critics claim is an attempt to suppress the vote.

Despite the fight over defunding the USPS, there’s still time to ensure the election goes smoothly. Here are the five things you can do now to make sure every vote is counted in 2020:

1st: Register To Vote

Step one is the same regardless of whether you want to vote in-person or whether you want to vote by mail. You need to get registered. You cannot vote in any way without being on the rolls.

Start by going to your local elections website. To find the correct website, you can head to Vote.org, a nonpartisan web clearinghouse for voting information. Just tell the website what state you’re in and what county you’re in, and it will send you information to get registered.

2nd: Request An Absentee Ballot Now

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Despite Trump’s claims, there is no evidence that voting by mail leads to fraud. In reality, voting by mail is secure and safe. It also gives voters the opportunity to review their ballot in their own time and do research on candidates.

When voting by mail in many states, you have options for returning your ballot. You can drop it in the mail or bring it to your local election office before Election Day. In some states, voters have up to two weeks to drop their ballots off at their polling location or in a secure drop box in their county.

3rd: Have A Plan To Vote In-Person If You Can’t By Mail

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Studies show that having a voting plan increases a person’s likelihood of voting by nearly 10 percent. Check out your state’s in-person early vote and Election Day voting hours and determine what you need to bring with you to the polls. Before you go, look up your polling place — remember, it may have changed since the last time you voted! Finally, make a plan for getting to the polls. Companies like Uber will be offering free rides to the polls on Election Day. If you can, make voting a family affair or invite a friend to meet you at the polls. Remember: you must be in line by the time the polls closed to be allowed to vote.

4th: Sign Up To Be A Poll Worker

The United States is facing a widespread shortage of poll workers this year due to COVID-19, which could result in closing polling places and long delays for voters. Especially if there are issues with the USPS, we will need more — not fewer — volunteers at the polling places making sure everyone can vote safely, fairly, and efficiently. And if saving democracy isn’t enough, most poll workers also get paid!

5th: Help A Friend

Once you’ve figured out this system, and especially if you’re in a place where lots of people historically haven’t voted by mail, think about helping a friend or offering assistance on social media. You could really be a resource to people who either don’t know what to do or are intimidated by it.

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Voting 101: Top Tips For First Time Voters Or Those Just A Little Out Of Practice

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Voting 101: Top Tips For First Time Voters Or Those Just A Little Out Of Practice

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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 vote early?

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The option to vote early ends a few days before the Election Day, depending on your state. So head on over here to find out if you can vote early.

Can you leave work or school to vote?

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If you work or need to attend classes, you should tell your management or administration about your plans so you can take time off. Find out your state’s laws about leaving work early to vote.

Can you take a selfie to show off your pride in democracy?

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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?

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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.

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Joe Biden Walks Away With Final Presidential Debate On Healthcare, Covid, And Many Issues

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Joe Biden Walks Away With Final Presidential Debate On Healthcare, Covid, And Many Issues

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President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden sparred during the final presidential debate. The two presidential nominees debated on issues ranging from healthcare to immigration to Trump’s finances. President Trump started controlled and quickly lost control of his temperament and spiraled for much of the debate.

First, people are giving the praise to the moderator, journalist Kristen Welker.

Welker is a reporter and White House correspondent for NBC News. As moderator of the final presidential debate, Welker kept the conversation moving forward. She was also able to stop President Trump on numerous occasions when he began spiraling as the debate went on.

One of the most stunning moments was President Trump claims that low IQ immigrants show up to court dates.

“Only the really – I hate to say this, but those with the lowest IQ. They might come back,” Trump said.

That was President Trump’s response to a question about catch and release. The catch and release program allowed for immigrants to come to the U.S., declare their intent for asylum, and be released to, usually, family members. They are then given a court date to plead their case for asylum. An overwhelming number of asylum seekers do show up to their court cases to make sure they have the chance to seek asylum.

The Trump administration eliminated the program and began what is called “Remain in Mexico.” The current plan forces migrants to wait in other countries while waiting for their day in immigration court.

When given a chance to address the 545 migrant children missing their parents, President Trump claimed they were being taken care of.

President Trump dodged questions about healthcare.

The rushed confirmation of Supreme Court Justice pick Amy Coney Barrett could have serious repercussions for people and their health care. The Trump administration is going to be challenging the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, in hopes of overturning the healthcare law. This would eliminate protections for people with preexisting conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and pregnancy.

There is currently a lot of debate over whether or not a Covid-19 diagnosis would become a preexisting condition. More than 220,000 Americans have contracted the virus and the Affordable Care Act is in jeopardy because of the Trump administration.

President Trump still hasn’t released his tax returns.

Recent news about President Trump’s taxes made national headlines. Americans learned that President Trump recently paid $750 in taxes and that the president has a private bank account in China. According to his own tax returns, Trump paid more than $188,000 in taxes to the Chinese government. The bank account was previously unknown information.

Joe Biden appealed to the American voters and families.

Biden avoided getting into arguments during the debate and kept focused on the issues and how they impacted the American family. From Covid to the economy, Biden touched on all of the issues that keep American families up at night. Biden offered plans to stop the spread of Covid-19 but promoting the use of masks and safely reopening the U.S. economy to boost the economy and save lives.

Viewers are calling the debate a victory for the Biden campaign.

Several snap polls form different organizations show that people consider Biden the winner of this debate. Biden told the American people that is was running to be the American president, not a Democrat president. Biden promised to be the president for all American people and to take care of everyone, regardless of whether or not they voted for him.

READ: The First Presidential Debate Went Off The Rails Fast And The Internet Had Fun With It

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