Tips on Planning Ahead for Election Day
With Election Day just two weeks away—on Tuesday, November 6, 2018—it’s time to put your voting plan into place.
Did you know that 2018 has more LGBT candidates than ever?
Follow these important steps to make sure you’re prepared for Election Day and have everything you need to make it to the polls.
Step 1: Register to vote
If you haven’t yet registered to vote, check out our recent blog post, which contains key information on:
- Registering to vote
- Looking up your voter status
- Learning about important dates and deadlines
- Taking action on voting rights in your state
Step 2: Learn about the candidates before you get to the polls
These resources can prepare you to hit the polls ready to cast your vote. Find out who the candidates will be on your ballot and where they stand on the issues:
- Vote411 provides a voter’s guide on which you can see the races on your ballot, compare candidates’ positions side by side, and print out a “ballot” indicating your preferences to serve as a guide on Election Day.
- Project Vote Smart offers factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials.
- BallotReady provides an individualized voter guide for candidates in your district. It also enables you to make selections on a sample ballot and then print it as a guide to use when voting.
- Ballotpedia provides a sample ballot lookup tool.
Step 3: Determine the location of your polling center or figure out your absentee ballot options
These resources tell you where you need to go to cast your ballot, what your polling center hours are, and information about the voting machines that you will use:
- HeadCount tells you where you can cast your ballot.
- Vote411 provides detailed information on polling centers by state.
If you cannot make it to your polling center, consider filing an absentee ballot. First review your state’s deadlines for absentee ballot applications and submission of voted absentee ballots. The following resources can help guide you through the absentee ballot process:
- Vote.org says it can help you request an absentee ballot in two minutes.
- U.S. Vote Foundation provides early voting information and absentee ballot requests.
- Federal Voting Assistance Program helps with voting for armed service members, their families, and American citizens living overseas.
- Overseas Vote Foundation assists with voting for American citizens living overseas.
Step 4: Prepare the identification that your polling center will likely request
Of the 50 states, 35 have laws that require voters to show some form of identification at the polls. The remaining 15 states have other methods in place to verify the identity of voters. Use the following resources to learn what type of identification your polling center will require:
- VoteRiders—a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused exclusively on voter identification—provides assistance and information to ensure voters have the right kind of ID to vote in their state.
- HeadCount provides voter ID requirements by state. Select your state of residence through its voter information hub for specific information.
Step 5: Plan for how you’ll get to the polls
An estimated 15 million people did not vote in 2016 because of transportation issues. Don’t let it happen to you—start planning now how you’ll get to your polling center on Election Day. The following resources can help:
- Lyft provides free rides for underserved communities through nonpartisan, nonprofit partners such as Voto Latino, local Urban League affiliates, and The National Federation of the Blind. The company will also give promotion codes for 50 percent off of rides across the U.S. distributed by Vote.org, Nonprofit Vote and TurboVote.
- U.S. Election Assistance Commission informs voters with a robust directory of resources for the elderly and those with disabilities.
- The American Association of People with Disabilities provides an election accessibility toolkit that includes information for disability advocacy organizations and individual advocates. The toolkit includes tips on troubleshooting problems encountered on Election Day, among other resources.
Think about planning ahead to go with a few friends, family members, or your neighbors.
Step 6: Why wait? Vote early if you can!
Early voting takes place in person before Election Day. In most cases, you don’t need an excuse—you can vote early even if you are capable of voting at the polls on Election Day.
Though most states offer early voting, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, and Virginia will let you vote early only if you have a valid excuse for not voting on Election Day. (Though it takes place before Election Day, this is technically not early voting, it’s “absentee in-person voting.”)
Go to Vote.org for more information on early voting in your state.
Step 7: Talk to your employer ahead of time
Know your rights when it comes to taking off time to vote on or before Election Day. Almost every state prohibits employers from disciplining an employee who takes time off from work to vote. The specific requirements vary by state, and some include expectations that the employee requests voting leave in advance.
- Vote411 provides information about state laws on voting rights and time off to vote. It allows you to choose your state of residence to learn about specific laws.
Step 8: Receive a sticker and feel patriotic
Congratulations, you voted! Doesn’t it feel great to exercise your right to vote? Remember: If anyone is preventing you from voting, please call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE for free, nonpartisan advice.
This post is part of a series by SAGE about voting as it relates to issues that matter to older LGBT people.