The Spire & Co Guide To Voting In The 2018 Mid-Term Elections

 photo via  Huffington Post

photo via Huffington Post

Last week, Taylor Swift single-handedly inspired more than 65,000 young people to register to vote—from an Instagram post. Her message came five weeks before the mid-term elections, which historically have lower turnout than presidential elections.

While we all may not have tens of millions of followers, that doesn’t mean we can’t make our voices heard.

Voting isn’t simply registering and then showing up. It’s a process. It’s important to know where to find voter information for your state and understand the candidates and the issues in your community so you can head to the polls confidently, making the most informed decision possible.

I know, that’s a little overwhelming. Never fear, though—Spire & Co is here! With Election Day approaching, we’ve created a guide with resources that can help you ramp up your civic engagement at each stage of the process and build your confidence as you cast your ballot on Nov. 6.

Registering to vote

Your first step is determining if you’re registered to vote and where. About 12 states practice automatic voter registration, which means when you get your driver’s license or renew it, you can register. Vote.org is your go-to source for registration and your polling place.  

Keep in mind that most states require you to register weeks before an election (this year, it was Oct. 9). Only 17 plus Washington D.C. allow you to register up until and on Election Day.  

If you missed the deadline this year, don’t worry! You can register at any time. Vote.org and your state’s Board of Elections website can both help you register or re-register—which you should do if you’ve moved at all. Are you due for a new license soon? Register when you head to the DMV. Thirty-eight states allow for online registration. Your local League of Women Voters office can also help you navigate the process.

Getting to know the candidates and the issues

Local news—television, newspapers, community publications—are the best source of information for candidates and the issues. They give you the basics, synthesize information and sometimes analyze it for you. Make sure that you are accessing the actual news organization’s website, rather than using social media.  

Want a more up-close-and-personal look at candidates and the issues? You can use BallotReady to see who will be on your ballot. You can then Google the names of the candidates and read their campaign websites, which give background information about themselves and their stances on specific issues. They may even offer opportunities to contact them or extend an open invitation to visit their campaign offices.  

Casting your ballot

You’re registered—great! You’ve educated yourself—fantastic! Now, it’s time to vote. If you plan to vote in person on Election Day, you need to find your polling place. Trusty Vote.org can help you, as can the State Board of Elections website. Just type in your address and voila! Check your State Board of Elections website before you walk out the door to see if any voter identification is required.

Maybe you’re in a different place for school or have a short-term career building opportunity that takes you away from your district or state. Apply for an absentee ballot! TurboVote, popular on many college campuses, can help you fill out information for an absentee ballot and send you text or email updates about deadlines. This excellent chart from Vote.org shows absentee ballot deadlines for every state.

Did you know you can also vote early? You might already know you need to be out of town or your day is packed with meetings. Early voting is an option in 37 states and usually, no excuse is required. The National Conference of State Legislatures gives a great overview of absentee and early voting and has a great map that you can reference for your states’ laws.

Voting is an integral part of our democracy—but it’s also our duty to make informed choices. So grab a cup of tea, curl up in your favorite comfy clothes, and research your local, state and federal candidates running for office. You’ll be glad you did.

What’s your go-to resource for voter information? Do you have a favorite news source that focuses on issues that are important to you? Share them with us!

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