With the US Presidential Election only days away now, it’s time get up to speed on what you have to do to vote and how your vote is processed. Many people are confused by the voting process and therefore choose not to vote. We’d like to change that and give College Students the information they need so that they can make an informed decision on whether to vote and who to vote for.
Put simply, this is the voting process for a national US Presidential Election.
1. You must Register
The rules to register do vary from state to state, but on general terms to be eligible to Register you must be 18 years old or older and an U.S Citizen. You will register in the state where you reside, so this may be the state where you attend College, not your home state. For College students who are already registered in their home state, but attend College away from their home state it can be a little confusing, but don’t get too worried you do not need to register again, you can submit an absentee vote at Election time.
When registering you will be asked to provide basic information, such as full name, address, social security number and the party you are aligning yourself too. Don’t get too concerned if you have not made your choice yet, you can simply put undeclared. It’s that simply, you may need to provide some form of identification. It’s as simple as that.
Unfortunately, in most States if you haven’t registered already you have missed your chance for the 2012 Election. However there are a handful of States where voting doesn’t close till the 31st October, check here, to see if you’re in one of these States. If you’ve missed out for the 2012 Election in your State, why not be prepared and get yourself registered for the next election.
Of course there is always the option to register online. Making it quick and convenient for everyone, some sites that help make this process easy are Our Time and Rock The Vote, check them out and if get yourself registered so that your voice can be heard.
2. Finding a Polling Station
The next step is to locate the closest Polling Station to you, so that on Election Day you can get yourself down to the Polling Station easily and cast your vote. Once you are registered your will receive a sample Ballot Paper in the mail, this will show you how you should fill out the Ballot Paper on voting day and also provide you with information on each of the candidates policies, views and the various issues that are being voted on. From this information take note of the closest ballot place to you. You can also use Rock The Vote who have created a handy list with a link to each State’s information on Polling Places.
3. Educate Yourself – Be an Informed Voter
One of the most important steps to do is to get yourself educated about the policies, beliefs and responses to Election issues from each candidate in your area, so that you can make an informed decision about who to vote for. You’re taking the first step by reading this article, but use the power of modern technology and research what the parties are saying, read reviews of the Election Debates, speak with your College friends and professors about their views and what they know about the candidates. As mentioned above, you will also receive some information with your Ballot pack that you should read to give yourself an idea of your candidates views.
4. Voting Day – Don’t Forget Your ID
On Voting Day (6 November) you will most likely need to bring with you some form of identification so that the poll workers can identify you as the person that you say you are. Different rules apply to different States, but it would be a good idea to have it with you anyway. You can check all the requirements for your state on the Rock Your Vote Election Center, simply start off by selecting your State. You will also find information about Voting Early and Absentee Voting. Some Early Voting may have already commenced in some states.
5. And last of all VOTE!
Now that you’ve done all the research and ground work, have your voice heard, but putting your Vote on paper. Remember to clearly mark the ballot paper following the instructions provided. Voting places can be busy, so try to go earlier in the day, this also helps you to remember to go and not be distracted during the day. Each State has different Ballot Types, so be sure to read the instructions and follow them. You don’t want to have spent all this time getting ready for voting and then have your vote wasted because you completed the ballot paper incorrectly.
So don’t forget November 6, 2012 is Election Day 2012. If you want your voice to be heard, get yourself organised and down to the polling place early!
If you’re still undecided about voting, check out Part 1 in our series, on Why You Should Vote.