Not planning to vote this year? Every election millions of people pass up the chance to influence the direction of their local, state and federal government. Why don’t you vote? What’s your excuse?
I’m too busy!
We get it. Between work and family, sometimes there’s not much time for anything else. But most states now offer either early voting or vote-by-mail options! Early voting lets you pick a time, in a date range prior to election day that’s convenient to you. You may even be able to choose your polling place – for example, vote early at a polling place closer to work or en route from dropping off your kids.
Voting by mail is just that- apply for a mail-in-ballot, they send it to you, you fill it out and mail it back. Learn about the voting options in your state.
The candidates are all the same
I don’t like either candidate
Doesn’t matter who you vote for…they’re all lying politicians
Whether you like the leading candidates or not, the fact of the matter is that one of them is going to win.
Even if you don’t like them, they represent a party with a platform on various issues, such as taxes, schools, health, environment, jobs, infrastructure, etc, and will generally act along those lines if elected. Which party’s goals and values are a better match for you? In the long run, its better to choose the candidate more in tune with the things you value!
While a gubenatorial or presidental race usually “headlines” an election, there are always a lot of smaller contests on the ballot, such as state representative, county clerk, local councilmen, sheriff, and town clerk. These people make decisions that directly affect your quality of life by affecting the laws of your town, county or state and determining where your tax dollars are spent. Even if you don’t like any of the “major” candidates, find out where the local candidates stand on issues that are important to you and vote accordingly.
Often a ballot includes yes/no vote questions on local municipal issues – things like zoning or how your town spends its money. This is one case where the voters, not the politicians, are the ones who determine the outcome. It’s your opportunity to vote for the things you want and against anything you think is a bad idea.
Much as we like to think not voting makes a statement to the politicians, it doesn’t. It just gives away your opportunity to have a voice in the process.
Learn more about the issues and candidates on your state / local election board web sites and the candidates’ own web sites.
If I register and vote, I’ll get called up for Jury Duty
This still holds true for Louisiana and Ohio, but for other states it’s a misconception based on outdated information.
For years, jury pools were selected from voter registration data. However as more computerized information became available, states took advantage of new data sources. Today, very few states (there were 4 back in 2012, now it looks like only 2) still rely solely on voter registration rolls to select people for jury duty. The rest use a merged list which includes sources like driver’s licenses, state ID,unemployment lists, tax rolls, utility information and even telephone directories!
Your odds of being called up for jury duty depend more on the population of the county or state (the fewer people, the higher your odds of being called) and luck.
If you do get called up for jury duty in Louisiana or Ohio, at least they compensate jurors fairly well – $50/day in LA, $40/day in OH. Unlike New Jersey, which still pays jurors a miserable pittance of just $5/day.
Voting doesn’t make a difference – my one vote won’t matter
Don’t believe the process works? Elections have been decided by as little as one vote! And in most elections, if all the eligible people who stayed home had gone out and voted, they’d easily have had the ability to sway the election results!
My partner is voting for the other candidate – we’ll just cancel each other out so we’re both staying home.
Fair enough … if there are only two candidates on the ballot! But normally there are many candidates and issues being voted upon, and many positions on a ballot will have one or more 3rd party candidates running, which puts a different spin on the numbers.
Get out and vote – we won’t tell ;)!
I don’t have a way to get to the polls
If you can’t get to your polling place to vote, there are alternative ways to vote and groups that can help you with transportation:
- If you won’t be home, are away at school, or are not able to travel, voting by mail or absentee voting may be an option for you.
- If you can normally get out to vote but won’t be able to go on election day when the polls are open, look into early voting in your state. Early voting rules and availability vary, but it gives you the flexibility of deciding when and sometimes even where you vote.
- Look into groups who offer discounted or even free transportation to the polls, like Lyft or Carpool 2 Vote. If you can get transportation but can’t get into the building, check with your local election board for details on accessibility options.
I don’t have the ID I need to vote
I don’t know what ID I need or how to get it
- Check with your state’s voter information site or see this updated list of voter ID requirements or ID requirements for absentee ballots to find out which forms of ID are acceptable. There may be a less frequently-used option which you already have or can easily obtain.
- Vote Riders is a non-partisan organization that offers free voter ID help. Visit their site or call them at 844-338-8743.
I don’t know the issues
I don’t know anything about the candidates
It’s not difficult to find information about the issues, the candidates and where they stand. A few tips on researching candidates:
- Information about the candidates can be found on the Board of Elections site for your state or municipality.
- Candidates also typically maintain a web site where they post where they stand on the pending issues. Google their name and where they are running to find it.
- Look at the candidate’s record (if they’ve been in office before) and experience. What have or haven’t they done? Do they have the right experience for the position?
- You can also find information in news (local news for local candidates) but be a critical reader: Look for articles that state facts (“at yesterday’s town hall meeting Candidate A said “… “Candidate B has recently spoken in favor of …”) and avoid being overly influenced by opinion pieces (“Candidate A is the greatest person ever to walk the earth” … “Candidate B is a sleazy liar”)
- Before you do your research, it helps to write down issues that are most important to you – this helps you keep your priorities clear in your mind as you research.
- If both candidates say they’re going to, for example, lower taxes, pay attention to how they intend to do this. Vague statements may indicate this isn’t an important issue to that candidate, while a detailed plan suggests a candidate who has thought things through.