The 2020 Presidential election is now upon us, and many Americans are feeling the weight of what is possibly at stake for the next four years. Given such a highly anticipated, seemingly crucial, and perhaps downright confusing election, many could use some helpful tips on how to effectively prepare for tomorrow’s election. Some elements of concern for voters across the country include new voting procedures, potential misinformation from social media and other news outlets as well as worrying political division.
So, whether you’re wondering what the voting process looks like across the country due to the pandemic, how to constructively utilize social media or what are the best ways to unplug before bed on Tuesday- here’s how you can prepare yourself for tomorrow’s election:
Learn the correct voting process for your state:
If you missed early voting, it’s important to learn the correct voting process for your state on election day. Understandably, given the unprecedented election rhetoric and processes from COVID-19, what voting looks like state to state may be a bit confusing. Some states are extending mail in votes, while others require in-person voting. Axios has provided a detailed article that illustrates when and how to vote in all 50 states. Click here to learn and understand how to vote in your state.
Know your voting procedures and stay in line
Before casting your ballot, you’ll be asked to present a form of acceptable identification and voter registration card. For voters 18 to 69, the presented identification cannot have expired more than 4 years ago. Voters 70 and older may use a form of acceptable photo identification that has expired if the identification is otherwise valid. While waiting in line, simply stay until you vote.
Even if the polls close while you’re standing in line, you are still legally allowed to vote. A 2018 Mental Floss article states, “As long as you are in line at closing time, you have a legal right to vote. In fact, if someone does attempt to force you to leave, you are encouraged to call a voter protection hotline (such as 1-866-OUR-VOTE) or submit a complaint to the Department of Justice (1-800-253-3931).”
Be prepared to wait
Election days can see long lines with possibly hours long wait times. When going to vote, ideally, wear comfortable and warm clothes for standing outside, bring food to snack on and water to stay hydrated, and maybe even take headphones to listen to music or watch a couple episodes of your favorite show. Take whatever you need tomorrow to ensure you’re comfortable and able to withstand a long wait. Also, don’t forget to bring your mask!
Items to bring with you
As previously mentioned, it’s likely you may face long wait times on election day. To ensure efficiency and accuracy, bring the proper resources necessary to cast your vote.
Most states require a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, military ID, or tribal ID, to vote. Other states allow people to use non-photo identification, like bank statements, to vote. Notably, your voter registration card is needed along with some form of identification. In cases when a voter cannot provide identification, there are two legal options. First being what is called a non-strict policy that lets people cast a ballot without further action from the voter or vote on a non-provisional ballot. Second being a strict policy that requires voting on a provisional ballot and takes additional steps after election day to ensure the vote is counted. For more information on voter identification laws and necessary materials to bring on election day, click here.
Use social media wisely:
On election days, social media can be great for reassurance, community, and much needed humor; however, social media sites can also be a cesspool of misinformation and baseless claims. A recently published Washington Post article advises people “not to jump to any conclusions before a race is called by an official outlet, no matter how it looks on a news or social media site’s official map.” Tomorrow, make sure to check your sources while on social media sites and resist the urge to jump to inaccurate conclusions. In addition, don’t share news unless you’re confident the information is accurate and legitimate. And, finally, don’t forget to take social media breaks!
Find ways to unplug:
Whatever the outcome in tomorrow’s election, many people can attest to having some mild or severe anxiety leading up to Tuesday. Additionally, because of mail in votes, it’s likely we won’t even know the outcome of the election for perhaps another week. With this in mind, find helpful ways to unplug and relax before going to bed on Tuesday, and be prepared to upkeep this routine for a few days. I suggest prioritizing sleep, maintaining social connections with others who are just as anxious as you, or doing a stress-reducing activity: hot bath or shower, read, late night walk or watch an episode of your favorite Netflix show. Ultimately, in addition to election results, your wellbeing matters too.
Lean on friends or family for emotional support:
Finding comfort in those close to you can be very helpful on election nights. There are even emotional support groups specifically for Tuesday on social media sites like Facebook. Try engaging with like-minded individuals, within your friend group or family, on election night for an outlet of humor, support, or comfort to help you get through what is likely going to be a long, stress-inducing election process.
All things considered, allow yourself to feel any and all complicated emotions during this time. Tomorrow’s election is unprecedented and feels to be one of the most divided elections in American history.
Regarding post election preparation, Katyi Christian sums it up perfectly in her article for The Good Trade stating, “The most important thing we can do post-election is to stay engaged and to hold our leaders accountable. Even if your party won or the votes went the way you hoped, it’s up to us to ensure that legislation is passed and promised policies are fulfilled. Election day is not the ending, it’s the beginning.”
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