See you at the polls

Here are 3 steps to make your voting day smoother

Unrecognizable african-american man putting his vote in the ballot box, usa elections and coronavirus concept.

With more than 40 million people having already cast their votes, this year’s presidential election promises to be exciting. Or stressful, depending on how you approach it. 

Recent news stories have described the long, multi-hour lines voters are enduring to practice their constitutional right. Turnout for early voting has already shattered records of past election cycles.

But millions more are expected to vote, through mail-in ballots or in person on Election Day, which falls on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Here are some steps to make sure your experience goes as smoothly as possible:  

  1. Know where your voting location is? Given the historic dimension of this year’s election, most can expect to wait for a long period of time (This author waited six hours and five minutes before casting a vote). Make sure to wear comfortable shoes or bring a chair and a book to help pass the time. Most importantly, make sure you’re practicing the public health guidelines to prevent the community spread of the novel coronavirus. These guidelines include wearing masks, practicing social distancing (the advised distance is at least 6 feet), and using sanitizer. If using restrooms, make sure to thoroughly wash hands for at least 20 seconds. 
  1. If you plan to vote by mail or via absentee ballot, make sure it’s properly filled out. There have been issues with ballots being rejected, either because the signatures didn’t match, or the ballot wasn’t thoroughly completed.  Every state has different rules on how soon (or late) you can request a ballot and submit. In some states, you need an excuse on why you’re requesting to vote in a method other than in-person voting. Check with your local or state elections board. If you had initially planned to vote via absentee ballot but changed your mind and elected to vote in person, make sure to bring you absentee ballot with you. Voting twice is illegal. To make a plan to vote, visit the website, www.educationvotes.nea.org/presidential-2020/make-a-plan-to-vote. I
  1. Follow instructions on the Ballot. This may sound self-explanatory, but if the specific instructions aren’t followed, your vote may not count. For example, voters will need to fill out an oval and not place an ‘x’ or a checkmark. Simple errors like these can have consequences. Thus, follow instructions closely and don’t hesitate to ask poll workers for assistance. That is why they’re there. 

Most importantly, have fun and stay safe. Free and fair elections are a highlight of United States’ democracy. We have to practice it. 

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