The 2020 presidential election is only weeks away, and millions of Americans will exercise their Constitutional right to vote this November. But how do you know if you’re ready to vote? Yes, you’ll show up to your polling place, likely with the knowledge of your preferred candidate — almost 90 percent of voters know who they’re voting for — but there are other steps that you should take. Voting may seem simple, but many people may face hurdles blocking their chances to vote in the upcoming election.
Voting is how you make sure that politicians, both locally and nationally, listen to your concerns and address the issues that matter to you in the community. If you’re planning to vote, you must make sure that you’re eligible and don’t have anything stopping you from voting in the election. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has advice for anyone looking to ensure that they’re ready to vote on election day.
Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind.
Research Voter ID requirement laws. Do you know what documentation you need to vote? It’s dependent on your state and county regulations, but it’s imperative that you show up to your polling place with the necessary identification for a registered voter.
Your voter registration information needs to be up to date. You can usually check with your local Supervisor of Elections to ensure that your voter registration file has up-to-date information. It’s a good idea to make sure that your address and other personal details are current. If your current address doesn’t match what your voting body has on file, it might get complicated to cast your vote at the polling place assigned to you.
Voting by mail requires research. If you plan to vote by mail, a convenient option that some voters prefer, it’s a good idea to read up on voting by mail, the controversy surrounding it, and why it’s still a viable method for voting. While voting by mail isn’t as rife with fraud as some politicians have said, it is important to know how it works and how your ballot is counted. It may be too late to request a mail-in ballot, but if you’ve already received one, make sure to mail it or drop it off today.
Vote early if you’re able. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, potential crowding at polling stations is a risk factor for infection. Early voting is one way to make sure that you don’t increase your chances of contracting COVID-19.
Knowing where to vote. With a lot of changes being made to polling locations for both early voting and election day voting, you want to make sure you are aware of the proper locations you are allowed to vote. This is especially important for election day when locations are limited to your specific precinct.
You can drive people to the polls. If you’re looking for a way to help people who may have trouble voting due to unreliable transportation, offering rides to the polls through an organization like Carpool Vote is a fantastic way to help. Alternatively, if you’re unsure how you’ll get to your polling place, Carpool Vote and similar initiatives are worth the research. A lack of transportation shouldn’t stop eligible voters.
The Cochran Firm Texas is an advocate of fair elections and exercising your civic duty to vote, regardless of who or what is on the ballot. Even if you aren’t concerned about the presidential election, many local and state races deserve your attention. Elections decide so many things. It’s crucial that you educate yourself about voting and participate in the 2020 general election, along with others. Let your voice be heard. Get out the vote!
Johnelle is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She attended the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff where she received her BA in Criminal Justice and her MS in Addiction Studies. After graduate school, Johnelle went to work for the Dallas County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (Adult Probation). She worked in several capacities in that department including as a Felony Court officer, Field Officer, and as a Specialty Court officer. After 13 years of service at CSCD, Johnelle enrolled in the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law where she earned her Juris Doctorate with high honors and was admitted to the Texas State Bar in 2019. Her areas of practice include Family Law, Estate Planning, Wills and Guardianship.