Election Day checklist

Nov 5, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. ET

Every state is a little different, but here's a checklist guaranteed to refresh your memory of all the things you'll need to make your vote count on Election Day!

Last-minute Election Day tips
Vote here!

Drum roll, please.

Political banter, ad space, airborne campaign spreads, debates, front yard pickets, arguments, bumper stickers and every other subliminal endorsement that has bombarded the American audience has all come down to this.

Election Day is upon us.

You’ve made up your mind to vote, but do you know how?

It’s not an intimidating process — in fact, it’s a privilege we are very fortunate to have in the country — but there are some basic steps to complete in making sure you cast your vote the right way.

Here’s what you will need:

Keep in mind that the process is very similar in every state but there are some technicalities that may differ slightly.


Proper registration

Depending on your state, there are still opportunities to register on Election Day, but for 2016, do yourself a favor and take advantage of early registration opportunities. Not only does this save you from the pains of waiting in an unnecessary line at the polls, it will also help to provide you with educational material in the form of a sample ballot. Most times you know where your heart and head take your vote, but familiarizing yourself with the sample ballot will allow you extra time to discern the often-confusing political lingo.

Make sure you know exactly what you are, indeed, voting for.

For future reference, many states now provide the voter registration process online so you can do everything from the comfort of your own home. You can also find voter registration advocacy organizations on many college campuses, and, considering most college students are first-time voters the personnel are typically very helpful in breaking down the process and answering any questions you may have. I registered to vote on the University of Arizona campus in 2008 and it literally took five minutes!

To check registration details in your state call 866-OUR-VOTE, or go to www.866ourvote.org.


Go to the right place

Another perk of registering early (I know, Election Day is Tuesday so early registration isn’t exactly relevant today — I’m just trying to drive the point home for next time) is that the sample ballot will inform you of the appropriate polling locations based on your current residence. Polling stations pop up all over the place — churches, fire stations, community centers — and they’ll all have signs that read, “Vote Here!” The reality is that you have to vote where you’re registered and you can double check all that at www.canivote.org or by calling 866-OUR-VOTE.

It would be tragic if you did all your homework, only to submit a vote that won’t count.

Furthermore, doing a bit of research will let you know when said polling stations open and close so you don’t miss the window. Take note that a large majority of the work force will probably sneak out on their lunch break to cast its vote so we suggest going before or after lunch to make things go as quick and smooth as possible.



No matter your current registration status, you can safely bet you will have to prove your identification at the polls. To play it safe — again each state has its own protocol — bring at least two forms of photo ID, one of which is a driver’s license. Be sure you also know your address, social security number and date of birth.

You laugh, but with all the important voter considerations taking up space in your head, it could be easy to goof on the simple stuff.


Vote local

SheKnows is not a political canvas, but we do encourage you to vote local. By all means you are free to cast only the presidential vote if you feel like doing so, but remember, that vote decides Washington. No doubt, the vote for Washington is worthwhile, but you also have a chance for a direct say in your hometown. The extra 10 minutes you place in casting local votes has an immediate influence in the dynamics and relations around your roots.

The presidential election is a big deal, but you've heard it said that it's the small things in life that matter.

Politics is a little bit of both so if you've got the chance for your voice to be heard you might as well use it to its full potential.


Have fun

If nothing else, remind yourself that the temporary headache of standing in line is birthed from a constitutional right we are granted as citizens of this country. Regardless of your political stance, involvement or opinion, the reality is many people fight for this right that you may or may not even value or acknowledge, so make the most of it.

You don’t owe a vote per se, but appreciating the opportunity for what it’s worth isn’t asking too much. If you’re not voting, humble yourself and recognize that even having the freedom to turn down the vote is something a large part of the world is starving for. Celebrate your privilege, and at the least, throw a party afterward saluting the return of subliminal, capitalistic commercials selling you on potato chips and vacuums rather than these heavy mudslinging campaigns.

Other Election Day topics to consider

Planned parenthood and abortion views
Foreign policy stance
U.S health care
Issues moms should understand