Thursday, September 20, 2012

Everything You Need To Know About Voting

Get out your garders whenever you
wear campaign gear, ladies!
UPDATE: For free absentee ballots and associated envelopes and postage, sign up with Columbia-subsidized TurboVote (even if you're already registered).

As a United States citizen you get a whole host of privileges. That all comes with one incredibly important responsibility, voting. It is more important than ever for you to register, and then actually go out and vote, whether in person while home for fall break or via an absentee ballot.

Check if you're registered
Not sure? Head to CanIVote.org, a website run by the National Association of Secretaries of State. Just choose your state, and you'll be redirected to your state's election office search engine.

Not registered?
Unless you're from New York State, you're probably eligible to become a voter here or in your home state. It’s really up to you which place you pick. Barnard has partnered with an awesome organization called TurboVote. Their website will walk you through the registration process for any state you want to register with.

Choosing what state to register for
If you're not sure where to register and you want to play it smart, Nate Silver, a statistician, forecasts the chances which states will go red or blue (with such astonishing accuracy, he was picked up by the NYTimes). Although this probably isn't surprising anyone, Silver calculates a nearly 100% chance that Obama will win New York State in the electoral college.

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/
Changing what state you're registered for
It may be that you're already registered in New York or at home, but would like to switch. The unofficial viewpoint is that you should just go ahead and register where you're going to vote, but only vote once.

Registering for an absentee ballot
Since our fall break is election day, our ability to vote in person in our home state is made a bit easier. But if you aren’t going home, don’t despair. You can request an absentee ballot, that allows you to vote via mail ahead of the election. Your state's election office probably has instructions online, but TurboVote can also help you register for your absentee ballot. Indicate you're with Barnard and TurboVote won't charge for postage. Theoretically, you could pick up your absentee ballot, fill it out, and then hand it right back to Mail Services!

Also, if you're going home before the election, you might be able to vote in person early. Check CanIVote.org for the rules in your state.

Vote!
Get reminders from TurboVote that the election is coming, and/or deadlines for absentee ballots. If you're voting in person, go on CanIVote.org to check if if there are any Voter ID laws in your state so you can ensure you have the right ID. You can also look on CanIVote.org sto make sure you know where to go to vote and what hours the polling place will be open.

Images courtesy of The Political Carnival and Gretchen.

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