prepare to vote with these seven easy steps

Your chance to play your part in America’s next move is coming up quick.

November 8th, 2016 is one week out and you may be feeling a little less than prepared to participate in the American right to vote.

Whether you’re a new or young voter, you want voting to be easy, and you to feel informed and empowered. Check into these steps designed to help you make the voting experience in this historic election season one to celebrate.

1. Know what’s on the ballot

There’s a lot more to vote for that just the president this year, in some cases mayors, district representatives, school district proposals, and even a constitutional amendment in Minnesota.

You can find a sample ballot dependent on your voting address here, which gives you a list of who’s running for what. 

2. Research your candidates

Believe it or not, some voters still aren’t sure of whom they want to vote for; after all, it’s been one whirlwind of an election season. To get to know the stance each candidate takes on the issues that matter to you, the previous practice ballot link has the web addresses of candidates for various elected positions, which you can use to continue your research.

3. Find your polling place and hours

The Minnesota poll finder gives you the name of your polling place, which is dependent on your address. If you haven’t received a letter informing you of your polling place, or if you planned to register on Election Day, it’s a good place to make sure you’re headed in the right direction, (literally.)

The link also provides the option to look up your polling place via various map websites. While most polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., you might want to call ahead to find out exact times.

4. If you didn’t pre-register, bring the materials needed to register at your polling place

If you didn’t get a chance to pre-register to vote before the deadline on October 18th, you will need to register at the polling place before you vote. To do this, it is important that you bring a valid form of identification with your current name and address. Other options include documents that verify you are currently living at the address you claim. This can be a utility bill or other recurring mail articles, such as bank, credit card, or tuition bill, rent, or residential lease agreement. Additionally, a registered voter can vouch for you at the sign in table.

Also check your university as some allow students who have an on-campus address to bring their student ID in addition to another selected form of identification to register.

5. Prepare for the possibility of a line

Some people have reported waiting in polling lines for hours on Election Day. If you need to bring water, snacks and other reasonable articles to keep you comfortable, we recommend doing so.

It’s difficult to say which times of the day will be busier than others; however pre, post and lunch time work hours might be convenient for the majority of people, (if you can avoid those times, it might save yourself some time!)

**Please note that it is your right as a Minnesota resident to request paid time off to miss work in order to get to the polling place.

6. Know your rights

As a Minnesota voter, you have the legal right to:

  • Take time off of work to vote without loss of pay, personal leave or vacation time
  • Vote if you were in line by 8 p.m. on Election Day
  • Register on Election day at your polling place
  • Ask someone to assist you in the booth, as long as it’s not an employer, union or candidate.
  • Bring your children to the polls
  • Get a replacement ballot if you mess up on the first one
  • File a complaint
  • Bring your sample ballot
  • Vote without being influenced

(This means you are not allowed to wear candidate merchandise, rally in or near the polling place or tell others who to vote for at the polling place, since others are not permitted to do so against your rights as well.)

7. Get excited and empowered

The actual process of voting is simpler than you might assume. On Election Day, you will show up at your correct polling place, sign in or register if you did not pre-register, vote via your ballot and put that baby in the ballot box. Easy as cake!

Voting is an easy and rewarding way to take advantage of your American rights, which many people fought and died to protect. Your voice matters, and the ability to participate in this historic and valued event is pretty cool too.

If you plan to vote on November 8th, go you, and go America!

For more resources, visit Minnesota’s office of the Secretary of State website at MnVotes.Org and pledge to vote to receive more information that will prepare you for the polling place this year!