You may feel energized and passionate about the 2012 election, but that enthusiasm isn’t going to have much impact if you don’t actually cast a vote. Here are some tips on how to make sure that you make a personal impact on the nation’s future.
- Make sure you know where to vote. Vote411.org, a website created by the League of Women Voters, allows you to find your polling place by typing in your address. Once you’ve got that, Google Maps can help you to find the best way to get to your polling place, whether you’re driving, using public transit or walking.
- Make sure you have the right ID. Headcount.org offers this guide to identification documents that you need to take to the polls in each state.
- Know your rights. The American Civil Liberties Union offers this state-by-state guide to voting rights and eligibility requirements, including advice on what to do in the event someone challenges your eligibility or there’s a mistake made in the voter rolls. A 2002 federal law gives you the right to file a provisional ballot while the dispute is being investigated.
- Don’t let Hurricane Sandy disenfranchise you. Some states that were hit hard by last week’s hurricane are taking steps to avoid letting it disrupt the election process, including extending hours for registration and early voting. And in New York City, it’s a good idea to check the Board of Elections’ Web page to verify your polling place, as locations have been changed because of storm damage. In New Jersey, state officials have extended early voting hours as well. Here’s a guide to last-minute changes in polling locations and procedures due to the storm.
- Get a ride to the polls. In many communities across the country, local political party activists will give you a free ride to the polls if you need one. Type the phrase “Get a ride to the polls” into Google or go to your favored presidential candidate’s website for more information. In some communities — Madison, Wis., for example — civic-minded taxicab companies are offering free rides to polling places.
—Patrick J. Kiger