Prepare and Vote

When I was growing up, my parents didn’t always agree on which candidate they voted for, but they did agree on the importance of voting.

Voting machine

My first voting experiences were as an elementary school student, joining one of my parents in a voting booth like this one.

We would have dinner conversations about the candidates and the ballot iniatives. Some of the issues were beyond my comprehension as an elementary school student, but I did understand that homework was required to decide how to vote.

On Election Day, I was so excited to go with them to the voting location and join one of them in the voting booth.

We would step into the booth, and I got to pull the big red-handled lever that shut the curtain. Little levers were flipped to “mark” the ballot. Then I would pull the big lever to open the curtain, which also would reset the little levers.

(Thanks to Megan Reif’s Pinterest board of Ballot Boxes and Voting Machines for the photo of the voting machine.)

I’m planning to vote in this election, and I hope you are, too.

According to voting data analyzed by University of Florida political scientist Michael McDonald, only slightly more than a third of eligible voters voted in the previous midterm elections in 2014.

If that is true for the 2018 election, that could mean that only slightly more than 15 percent of registered voters would be making election decisions that have a major impact on all of us – selecting our state governors and other national and local representatives and deciding on amendments and taxes that impact education, the environment, health care, etc.

NYT imageIn reviewing the responses about voting from the Census Bureau from 2000 to 2016 about voting, McDonald found that the two reasons people said they don’t vote is that they either are too busy or are not interested.

In “The Myth of the Lazy Nonvoter,” Sarah Jackel and Stuart A. Thompson, point out many reasons that voters don’t vote.

  • Some voters who are parents and full-time employees cannot afford to take unpaid time from work to vote.
  • Some voting-age students can’t vote because they don’t have a driver’s license (fewer have driver’s licenses of any time since 1980), so they don’t have official picture IDs.
  • In some states, you must register to vote 30 days before the election, and people don’t realize the deadline is so early and miss registering on time.

Absentee ballots and early voting

Absentee ballots and early voting can help solve voting problems for some people.

The Conference of State Legislatures website provides information about early voting and absentee voting.

Some states provide early voting days and allow absentee voting for any voter who requests an absentee ballot. Oregon is the only state that mails an absentee ballot to every registered voter in the state.

In 13 states, early voting is not available and an excuse is required to request an absentee ballot.

Check this website provided by the Conference of State Legislatures to see what options are available in your state.

With Election Day on Nov. 8, now’s the time to check what your options are for voting and do your homework.

Find out about the candidates beyond their party designation. Learn about the amendments, tax proposals or other iniatives that will be on your ballot.

League of Women Voters – Nonpartisan Voter Guide

League of Women Voters - Voter Guide

The League of Women Voters provides an online Nonpartisan Voter Guide that is available in six languages in addition to English.

A great source of voting information is the League of Women Voters.

The organization provides information about the deadlines and logistics of voting in every state and also provides nonpartisan discussion of candidates and ballot initiatives. [I am a proud member of the League of Women Voters.]

Check the League of Women Voters website to find voting information for your state.

On the League’s VOTE411.org, fill in your address to obtain information about your voting location and the candidates and ballot iniatives that apply to your location.

Early voting in my county starts on Oct. 22. I plan to vote early, taking my driver’s license (picture ID) and marked sample ballot with me to the voting location.

I hope you will vote and will encourage your family members, friends, colleagues, neighbors and others to vote, too.

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