**DISCLAIMER: CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS, YOUR LAST DAY TO REGISTER TO VOTE BEFORE THE PRIMARY ELECTION ON JUNE 7 IS TODAY, MAY 23. FOR INFO ON HOW TO REGISTER, GO HERE**
Voting season is upon us,
people who stole indigenous land Americans. And it can get a little tricky if you aren’t white because of all the requirements, laws, deadlines, rules, and other red tape. So I thought I’d put together a how-to guide. And since there’s a lot I still need to learn and my voting knowledge mostly pertains to California, I’ve included links to some helpful outside resources. Let’s get our democracy on.
1. Voting Requirements
To vote, you have to be a U.S. citizen and 18 years old. Some states allow you to vote in the presidential primaries if you aren’t 18 but will be by the time of the general election. And your eligibility to vote in a specific state depends on your residence. Basically, whatever state you live in is where you can vote. But determining residency can be tricky, so see below for some helpful links.
College students go here.
Citizens living outside the U.S., uniformed service members and their families go here.
And you don’t necessarily even have to have a street address to vote. This is the case in California, where, if you’re technically homeless, you can still vote. You just have to provide as precise a description as possible of the location you live when you’re registering—whether that’s an intersection, reference to landmarks, the In-N-Out where the 101 meets the 10 before the 110, etc.
When you register, you can pick a party affiliation or choose not to. Of course the most talked-about parties are Democrat and Republican, but there are multiple other choices, like Green, Libertarian, etc. Whether a party is on the ballot for a certain election depends on the state (e.g. the Green party is only on the ballot for the 2016 presidential election in certain states).
The reason the party you pick matters is because it can determine if/when you can vote. For example, in closed primaries, you can only vote if you are registered with the party holding the primary election. This is what happened in the recent democratic and republican primaries in New York—approximately 3 million people couldn’t vote because they’re registered as “independents,“ which means they’re not affiliated with a party. Whereas in open primaries, you can vote regardless of party affiliation.
And make sure that if you want to vote in a certain party’s election, you have that party’s ballot. For example, in CA, you can vote in the democratic primary if you are registered as an independent/no party preference, but in order to do so, you have to request the democratic ballot, either at the poll, or request to receive it via mail if you’ll be voting by mail.
Regardless of what you decide to do, just make sure you understand what it means to affiliate with a certain party, because sometimes the titles are misleading. For example, in California, registering with the “American Independent Party” does not mean you’re an “independent” (i.e. have no party affiliation or preference). It means you’re registered with what’s commonly referred to as the “Tea Party,” an extremely conservative, right wing party. In other words, you’re an asshole in the asshole party, even if you didn’t mean to be. So do your research.
For more info on voting by state go here.
Here’s a list of answers to voting FAQs.
There are different ways you can register to vote and different ways you can vote. You can register using a hard copy form that you mail in or drop off at your registrar’s office, or, in some places, you can register online. However you do it, just make sure to periodically check your voter registration status, because, as we’ve been seeing, a lot of voter fraud is occurring where people are having their registration status and party preference changed without their consent.
For directions on how to register and check your status, please visit this and this.
As for voting, you can do it in person at the polls, drop off your ballot at an official drop-off box /location, or by mail. Each has its pros and cons. If you go in person, you can ensure your ballot goes where it’s supposed to (theoretically), versus trusting it won’t get lost or stolen in the mail. But you can also get stuck in horrendous lines at the polls, and be told by incompetent poll workers that you can’t vote for one B.S. reason or another. And for most of us, going to the polls means missing work—which is fine if you have a boss who’s rational, but those are about as common as a truth spoken by Hillary Clinton, so mail-in or drop-off voting often is just easier.
I would say that if you choose to go to the polls, be prepared to prove that you are entitled to vote. This means printing out and bringing all documentation possible that shows you are registered, under whatever party. This can be the stub you receive when you fill out a paper registration form, or the page showing your voter reg status when you check it online, etc.
It’s important to be properly registered and have proof accordingly, because it entitles you to vote using a regular, official ballot (as opposed to a provisional ballot). The reason you want to avoid using provisional ballots is that it means your vote may not be counted, because provisional ballots are used when there are doubts or questions as to a person’s eligibility to vote—they’re essentially placeholder ballots until the voter’s registration status can or cannot be verified. So, for example, you could show up to the poll ready to vote, and be told by Patty, the sassy, red-white-and-blue-, visor-wearing
troll poll worker, that you’re not listed as registered, and thus that you can only use a provisional ballot, and if she and her team of equally useless poll workers are able to validate your registration, your vote will count, but if they find it invalid, it won’t. So do whatever you can to get your hands on a non-provisional ballot. This is why it’s important to bring evidence you can shove in Patty’s stupid powdered face that shows you are legally allowed to vote and, furthermore, she can suck it. Also bring contact information for voter fraud resources with you, in case Patty gets real salty and you have to stick the authorities on her ass. Below are helpful resources:
For info from the ACLU on voting rights go here.
To Report Voter Fraud go here.
Another thing is that you can choose to be a permanent mail-in voter. That way, if you ever can’t make it to the polls for an election, you’ll always have the mail-in option to fall back on. But, you can still go to the polls if you so choose—just make sure to bring the ballot that was mailed to you with you to the polls, because I don’t think they’ll provide you with another one. (This may not be the case in all states, so to double check your situation, again check your state’s voting website).
Look, I’ll be the first to concede that there is not a direct correlation between whether or not you vote and your level of civic engagement, passion, or activism. And I say that because of the way our political system works in the U.S.—it is so much an established system of corruption and greed, that most of the time our voting choices are just a bunch of evils who we try in vain to weigh against each other and categorize as “lesser” and “greater.” So I don’t blame people for abstaining from participating in an unjust process and not voting. But, when we have an option to vote for a candidate like Bernie Sanders—a man who, although far from perfect, has dedicated his life to serving the working class, improving life for the masses, and precisely fighting against the corruption that plagues our political processes—I think the argument for voting becomes much more persuasive.
Furthermore, if you are disillusioned with the political system, there are plenty of non-establishment, non-two party candidates to vote for too, like Jill Stein of the Green Party. People will say there’s no point in voting for someone like her because she can’t win in our current system. But to that, I’d say that a vote is a statement, and should be principled as such. A vote for someone is a vote for that person and that person only. The whole game of voting strategically, so that someone doesn’t get elected, instead of taking principled stands and voting to get someone elected, is the problem—if everyone voted on their conscience, I’d be willing to bet the system would change, and “underdog” candidates would have a chance at getting elected and causing progressive change.
I encourage everyone to vote according to their beliefs. (Unless you believe Hillary Clinton is upstanding. Or Donald Trump). But seriously, voting is a right, regardless of beliefs, and I think everyone should be able to access it and exercise it with responsibility—research your options, candidates, and other ballot measures thoroughly, consider what they mean for you and the rest of the world, and then vote, or don’t.
Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/voting-a-how-to-guide/