Voting Doesn’t Have to Be Scary! Tips on How to Make Your Voice Heard This Election

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The election coming up on Tuesday, November 6th is a big one, and YOUR vote can make a difference. If you’ve already registered to vote—congratulations, you’re halfway there! But you’re not done yet. Historically, young people have low voter turnout-- in the 2014 midterms, only 20 percent of registered young people actually voted! Now is the time to take the next step and CAST YOUR VOTE. And if you’re not 18 yet or didn’t register to vote on time, make sure to share these tips and resources with your friends, classmates, and loved ones who ARE eligible to vote.

Voting may sound serious or scary, but it’s really not as hard as you think. In California, there are lots of ways to vote, either on Election Day or even before! Here are a few tips to help breakdown the voting process.

What's on the Ballot?

  • Congress: You have the chance to vote for a person to represent you in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C. Members of Congress vote on national issues like health care access, and funding for teen pregnancy and STD prevention. Research the candidates and vote for the one you believe will support the issues that you care about.
  • Governor: California will be choosing a new Governor this election. Governors are the state's highest-ranking official. They sign and veto, build the State Budget, and have influence over how the state works.
  • State Elections: Some of you may have the opportunity to elect people who represent you in the state Legislature in Sacramento. There are also other statewide positions like Attorney General (the person who enforces California’s laws) and State Superintendent of Public Instruction (the person in charge of California public schools). All of these elected officials have a say on issues that impact your local communities – like health care clinics and schools. You can read about the candidates here
  • Local Races: Some of you may also be voting for Mayor, City Council members, County Supervisors, and school boards. These officials can impact your daily life because they handle issues like public safety, education, and public spaces like parks and libraries. You can check out what’s on your local ballot by finding your county voting website here.
  • Ballot Propositions: Propositions are issues that voters like you get to decide. For example, in previous elections, California voters decided on issues like same-sex marriage, outlawing plastic shopping bags or taxing tobacco. There are 11 ballot initiatives  to vote on this year.

Get Informed

  • Look up whether you agree or disagree with what the candidates say.
  • Check out the ballot propositions to understand how they can impact things you care about.
  • Get advice from the experts – like newspapers or organizations whose opinion you trust – on the candidates and issues that are important to you.

Casting Your Vote

In California, there are many ways you can vote. Below are the deadlines you should know.

  • Vote by Mail/Absentee: You MUST mail in your ballot by Nov. 6. Make sure you have the correct number of stamps.
    • Tip #1: You can drop off your ballot at any polling place in your county on Election Day!
    • Tip #2: If you lost your mail-in ballot, you can go to any polling place in your county on Election Day and request a “provisional ballot”
  • Vote in Person Before Nov. 6: In some counties, you can vote early in person! Find out if your county has early voting center here.
  • Vote in Person on Nov. 6: You can cast your vote on between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. at your polling place.
  • Make Your Voting Plan:
    • Check your polling/voter center address to make sure you show up at the right place on Election Day. You should have received a post card in the mail with the address.
    • What time are you going to vote? Before or after school/work?
    • How are you getting to the polling place? Are you walking, driving, taking public transportation? Lyft and Uber are offering free + discounted rides to vote!

What happens if something goes wrong and they won’t let me vote at the polls?

Click here or call the Election Protection Hotline: (866) OUR-VOTE – (866) 687-8683.

 Remember, if you aren’t 18 yet, it’s still good practice to do your research and stay informed about laws that could affect you. And if you feel strongly about an issue or a candidate, nothing can stop you from educating others and helping #GetOutTheVote!