How to Figure Out Your Voting Plan
Your vote matters. Candidates you elect support policies and laws — and sometimes, help dismantle systemic barriers — that directly impact your financial security. Voting is one of the most important ways you can influence policies and laws and help determine who represents your interests in government.
Your vote is just as powerful as any billionaire’s. Especially in a time when there’s so much at stake, your vote doesn’t just work — it matters.
But your vote only counts if you manage to vote! Once you’ve registered to vote, you need a voting plan. Studies have shown that people who plan out their voting day in advance are more likely to take action and cast their vote.
Read on for a quick outline of what your plan should include.
1. Where is your polling place?
If you’re planning to cast your vote in person, you’ll need to know where your local polling place is located. Every registered voter in the U.S. has an assigned physical polling place, and that location can change from year to year.
To find your assigned polling place, check the Vote.org list of state polling place locators below. Once you choose your state, you may have to enter some personal information in order to receive polling place details.
Alternately, call your state or local election office. Find your election office here.
2. What are your polling place’s hours?
Don’t assume your polling place will be open when it’s convenient for you to go. Check the voting hours at your specific polling place. Then make a plan for when you’re going to get there on Election Day. Will you vote on your way to work in the morning? On your lunch break? After you pick up the kids at school? And importantly, do you need to ask for time off in advance in order to make it to your polling place?
3. How are you going to get to the polls?
Knowing how you’re going to get to your polling place is an important piece of the puzzle. If you have a reliable car and plan to drive, great. If you can walk, take public transportation, ride a bike, or skateboard, that’s great too.
But if none of these alternatives are options for you, you’ll need another plan. Here are a few suggestions:
- If you’re in a major city with ridesharing options, note that Lyft, Uber, and Lime are all planning initiatives to support voters getting to the polls.
- Carpool with neighbors, perhaps by connecting on a service link NextDoor. This is also a great way to encourage others to vote!
- Certain local organizations and volunteer services make a point to mobilize and help voters in need get to the polls. Look for information in your local newspaper or via a Google search.
4. What are you going to bring?
Voter ID laws vary from state to state. Some states require you to show a valid photo I.D. from a list of official options. Others will accept a bill with your name and address on it, and some don’t require any ID at all. Make sure you know what’s expected at your polling place.
5. Who and what are you going to vote for?
Here’s the hardest part. How will you vote?
It’s tough to find nonpartisan information these days. One resource is BallotReady, which explains every candidate and referendum in as objective terms as possible.
By entering your street address, you can see a full breakdown of which candidates you’ll be able to vote for in the next election. By drilling down to a particular candidate, you’ll see that person’s credentials, as well as their voting record and stance on issues such as abortion, civil rights, criminal justice, healthcare, housing immigration — and even coronavirus.
6. What else can happen?
Having a plan for Election Day is so important. But what if something goes wrong? What if you get to the polls in time, but there’s a long line, and the poll is scheduled to close before you get to the front? What if you experience intimidation or harassment at your polling place — or you’re told that you’re not on the voter roll, even though you’re sure you registered to vote?
Vote.org has a great resource on Election Protection. It addresses all of these scenarios and more. If you have a smartphone you plan to take with you to the polls, consider bookmarking the page. Alternatively, review the information in advance and either print it out or commit to memory.